TWENTY years ago, the annual budget of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation was about Rs 500 crore. For 2017-18, it has gone up to Rs 5,100 crore, over a 10-fold hike. The current figure includes over Rs 2,000 crore of JNNURM funds and other central and state government funds. Two decades ago, the focus of the budget was mainly on maintaining public amenities like gardens or public toilets and expenditure on employees’ salaries. The revenue mainly consisted of octroi, which provided 70 per cent of funds. In the initial years, octroi was less than Rs 100 crore, but in the last fiscal the revenue collected from the local body tax, which replaced octroi, went up to Rs 1,400 crore. Property tax and water charges made up the rest of the civic funds.
No big plans, initially
V T Bhosale, a retired PCMC accountant who drafted several civic budgets, said in the initial years of the municipal corporation, there was hardly any expenditure on major projects. “Every year, we used to have Rs 300-400 crore as the opening balance in the budget. That was probably the reason why people used to call PCMC the richest civic body…,” he said. In the mid-90s, no major projects were implemented until the setting up of the Yeshwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital, which was inaugurated on March 11, 1989. Dr Anand Jagdale, who retired as PCMC health chief three years ago, said, “The construction of YCM hospital building cost about Rs 2 crore. That was the biggest project implemented by the PCMC in those days. Before that, the Indira Gandhi bridge in Pimpri was constructed by PCMC for a few lakhs.” Twenty years ago, the budget provision for health, including expenditure on hospitals and purchase of medicines, was a few lakhs and now it has gone beyond Rs 40 crore, said Dr Jagdale.
Focus on roads
In 2003, when Dilip Band was the municipal commissioner, the focus of the PCMC budget shifted to development by undertaking major projects. Band went on to widen internal roads, as well as the Pune-Mumbai and Nashik highway. Though the process to widen the highway to 61-metres was started during the Praveensinh Pardeshi era in 1997, it was completed during Band’s tenure. “Band made a major provision for the construction of roads, flyovers, subways and grade separators,” said Bhosale.
If Band’s budget gave importance to road, Ashish Sharma’s tenure saw public participation in the budget. However, this was opposed by corporators. “PCMC could include locals’ suggestions… for repairing roads, constructing public toilets etc. Major projects suggested by locals could not be taken up as corporators strongly opposed the idea… of credit for the development of their ward not going to them..,” said Bhosale.
DP gains speed
The Rs 5,000 crore budget for 2017-18 is the highest one in the PCMC’s history. “In this budget, for the first time, we have created a new head called DP Development Fund. It has the biggest budget provision of Rs 205 crore,” said Standing Committee Chairperson Seema Savale. The second biggest provision, of Rs 70 crore, is to procure water from the Bhama Askhed dam. “…In a nutshell, it is a development-oriented budget,” said Savale.