THE CHANDIGARH Municipal Corporation might have approved a budget of Rs 572.40 crore for 2016-17 under the plan head to carry out development works, but it could actually spend only Rs 106.41 crore. Reason: of the Rs 500 crore grant-in-aid that the MC was expecting from the administration, the civic body has received only Rs 84.70 crore so far. The MC has now been dipping into its fixed deposits to cover up the gap. Outgoing councillors said that the MC had misled the public by showing they would be spending Rs 572 crore on the development of the city but, in reality, it could actually spend just 18 per cent of what they claimed.
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Of the Rs 106 crore it spent till November 2016, Rs 84.70 crore was the money received from the administration and the remaining Rs 22 crore was spent either from its fixed deposits or its own revenue. According to the requirements of each department, the corporation had allocated a fixed budget. While the fire and emergency services of the city are crying for attention, the MC spent Rs 41 lakh only out of the Rs 33.35 crore allocated for it. Even for the ward development fund, Rs 12.70 crore was allocated but the councillors have been able to spend only Rs 6.52 crore till November 2016. The expenditure on primary education paints a dismal picture as the corporation spent only Rs 15,000 of the Rs 5 crore it allocated. Similarly, in primary health, the civic body spent only Rs 68.47 lakh when Rs 15 crore was allocated.
“This government lied to the public. We have been shouting in the House that it is the responsibility of ruling dispensation to request the Centre for funds. Why did they present a wrong picture to the public when they could not even spend 80 per cent of it? They did all this to win votes,” said outgoing Congress councillor Subhash Chawla who was part of the budget meeting. He added, “Even for paying salaries, the corporation is using the fixed deposits. I don’t think the administration will pay next quarter of grant-in-aid and by March all the fixed deposit would finish.”
In the public health wing, the civic body had allocated Rs 304.50 crore but they could spend only Rs 14.78 crore. Similarly, in the B and R wing, of the Rs 124.50 crore allocated, the corporation spent Rs 52.82 crore. Joint Commissioner Manoj Khatri said that the Municipal Corporation had overspent from the budget they actually received from the administration. “We got Rs 84.70 crore and we have rather spent Rs 106 crore,” said Khatri. Pardeep Chhabra, another councillor, said that the officials of MC were finishing the fixed deposits. “Because it was an election year, they projected that they would be spending Rs 572 crore on the city. Don’t the officials know how much administration has been giving in the past: only Rs 102 crore? Still, they passed such an inflated budget. The corporation’s fixed deposits have been depleting because they have been spending solely from here.”