MP KIRRON Kher and Mayor Arun Sood who met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Delhi on Tuesday to seek more funds from the Centre have returned with an advice to generate more revenue. Jaitley also told them how the budgetary allocation given to various municipal corporations remained unspent.
Chandigarh received Rs 700 crore under the plan head in the budget against a demand for Rs 2,095 crore. Jaitley told them that Chandigarh had got Rs 66 crore more in the budget as compared to that of last year. Sood said that they sought Rs 250 crore for the water project and Rs 200 crore under the plan head. MC had just been given Rs 84.70 crore by the UT Administration.
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“The minister told us that not just Chandigarh but in all other areas, mismanagement prevailed with regard to spending of budget in the previous years. It remained underutilised. So the government is trying to get everybody on track,” Sood told Chandigarh Newsline, adding that the minister asked them to focus on revenue generation.
Sood told Jaitley about the proposal to impose entry tax in the city for revenue generation. “He assured us that he would definitely do something for us since we explained him in detail about our Rs 250-crore water project,” Sood added.
Since the UT Administration is not giving 30 per cent of its planned budget as per the recommendations of the Fourth Finance Commission, the mayor requested the minister to issue directions in this regard.
Although the Municipal Corporation is seeking an additional budget, its allocation in the last three years has remained unspent. Various departments under the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation like the primary health or primary education or fire services remained neglected as the civic body did not bother to spend the budget allocated.
For primary education department, of the Rs 20 crore allocated for 2015-16, only Rs 1.33 lakh (that too office expenses) were spent till December 2015. A similar state prevailed in 2014-15 when MC spent only Rs 11.69 lakh out of Rs 15.40 crore and Rs 1.71 lakh out of Rs 15 crore in 2013-14. Despite Rs 6 to 10 crore kept every year for construction or renovation of primary schools, MC did not spend a single penny.
“The condition of primary schools, especially in the peripheral areas, is pathetic. Schools are in a shambles. There is leakage in the buildings. I don’t understand why no amount is being spent,” said Swaran Singh Kamboj, president of UT Cadre Educational Employees’ Union.
Under primary health, dispensaries of the city are crying for attention, but the civic body spent only Rs 95 lakh of the Rs 22 crore allocated in 2014-15. In 2013-14, too, the MC spent only Rs 1.16 crore out of the Rs 20 crore allocated. Similarly, in 2015-16, out of Rs 30 crore, only Rs 1.31 crore were spent till December 2015. Despite several amounts allocated, none was spent under the head of construction or renovation.
As for the fire department, out of a budget of Rs 17.45 crore in 2015-16, not even a single penny was spent till December 31, 2015. In 2014-15, MC just spent Rs 9.95 lakh out of Rs 12.50 crore and Rs 33,000 out of Rs 90 lakh in 2013-14.
When Municipal Commissioner Baldeo Purushartha had conducted a check at the fire stations, he found them ill-equipped.
Not just this, the councillors too remained unsuccessful in spending their ward development fund. Of the Rs 12.70 crore given to all the councillors, they spent only Rs 5.55 crore in 2014-15, Rs 7.78 crore in 2013-14 and Rs 8 crore till December 31, 2015.
While residents in various colonies have no other option but to resort to open defecation in the absence of toilets or due to ill-maintained toilets, MC did not bother to utilise the entire money meant for construction of public toilets. In 2014-15, an amount of just Rs 53 lakh out of Rs 2.5 crore was spent while just Rs 73 lakh out of Rs 2.5 crore were spent in 2013-14. By December 2015, too, MC just spent Rs 43 lakh out of Rs 3 crore.
Mayor Sood said that it was due to the unspent budgets in the last many years because of which they had got less budget this year.