Less than a week before the annual civic budget is presented to the newly elected standing committee, Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar has written to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta asking him to prepare a ‘realistic’ budget. In his letter, Mahadeshwar has highlighted his concern over the lack of adequate expenditure, asking the administration to make allocations for projects which can be started in this financial year, effectively reducing the amount of the total budget.
In his first speech which Mahadeshwar delivered on March 8, he had taken a dig at the BJP by expressing concerns over the outstanding dues with the state government which creates financial hurdles for projects taken up by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Citing a similar scenario, in his letter addressed to the civic chief, he stated that despite making the budgetary provisions, many of the project works fail to take off on time.
Attributing the delay to the acquisition of approvals from the government, he said: “Many projects such as construction of the Coastal Road, sewage treatment plants and Gargai-Pinjal dam projects, among others, have still not begun owing to delay in acquiring technical clearances from the union and state governments. Thus, the funds set aside for the projects are not utilised and the civic body receives flak for it. I request you to have a realistic civic budget from this year onwards,” he said.
In a letter sent on March 16, he added that if the work on the ground of the proposed projects doesn’t begin this year, then the funds should not be allocated for them. “By taking such measures, the total figure of the civic budget will not inflate unnecessarily and it will increase control and discipline on the civic finances,” he said. The civic budget will be presented to the standing committee on March 29.
Following the release of the second roads inquiry report, senior civic officials stated that the budgetary allocation for the roads department, which customarily receives the highest allocation of funds, will be considerably reduced this year. “About 70 per cent of the road works have been given out under the milling and carpeting method which is a far more economical alternative to digging roads. This brings the overall cost down from Rs 5,000 per square metre to Rs 1,200 per square metre, and is likely to reduce the budget for the roads department by almost 80 per cent,” said the senior civic official.