The departments that saw the two biggest scams unearthed in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in 2016-17 — the irregularities in contracts for road works and desilting of storm water drains (SWD) — are set to witness a lower outlay in the upcoming annual budgetary estimates of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. In comparison to budgetary provisions made last year, senior civic officials confirmed that both departments will get considerably smaller provisions for 2017-18.
A senior civic official pointed out that after inquiries were conducted in the Rs 2000-crore road scam and the Rs 150-crore drains de-silting scam, a significant drop had been noted in BMC’s overall expenditure in these departments in comparison to other departments. “The officials of the two departments are being cautious. Especially in the roads department, work has slowed down as the contractors are also being careful. We have streamlined the process,” said the official.
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Another senior civic official stated that the budgetary allocation of both the roads and SWD departments is expected to drop by 25-30 per cent. “We want to control all wasteful expenditures and funds will be allocated only to works that can justify the estimated cost,” he said. In 2016-17, Rs 5,183 crore (including revenue and capital expenditure) was allocated for the roads and bridges department, while Rs 1,408 crore was allocated for the storm water drains department.
Earlier this week, the BMC sought the approval of the State Election Commission regarding presentation of the budget estimates, as the code of conduct ahead of civic elections is now in place. Customarily, the municipal commissioner is expected to present the annual budget estimates within the first week of February every year. The BMC is still waiting for a response from the SEC.
“The administration has an obligatory duty to present the budget before February 5. However, the allocation of funds for any of the projects could influence the voters in some way. We are, thus, likely to present the budget as the municipal commissioner’s budget before the elections and the new general body may approve it later,” said an official.
Senior civic officials also stated that the new budget will focus on implementation of the Development Plan. While the revised draft of the Development Plan 2034 is yet to receive an approval from the general body, the civic administration is planning to allocate sizeable funds for its implementation. “There will be a new capital expenditure head for the DP. We are yet to figure out the estimate but we are planning to allocate around Rs 1,000 crores for all DP-related works such as construction of amenities or widening of roads,” said a senior civic official.