People’s say in civic works takes a hit

PMC slashes allocation under participatory budget scheme, activists slam the civic body

Written by Ajay Khape | Pune | Updated: April 11, 2015 3:27 am

The participatory budget initiative of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) that sought to involve citizens to suggest developmental works has failed to gain pace. In the Budget 2015-16, PMC has slashed the allocation for participatory budget marginally to Rs 37.41 crore. This is a reversal in the trend from previous years when allocations were raised.

The cut, however, has been attributed to the failure of the civic administration to create awareness among citizens about the scheme.

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There was a provision of Rs 37.52 crore and Rs 36.9 crore in 2014-15 and 2013-14 respectively under citizen participatory budget to accommodate the proposals submitted by citizens. However, it was mere Rs 26.24 crore in 2012-13 and the increase in spending thereafter came after a public awareness campaign launched for encouraging citizen participation for undertaking developmental works in their area.

The participatory budget initiative was launched in 2007-08 which enabled citizens to work with the civic administration to identify projects which were mainly maintenance and repair with a provision for small scale developmental works. The expenditure under this scheme was capped at Rs 5 lakh per ward, and the works identified were roads, electricity, buildings, slum-improvement, water supply and drainage.

“The PMC continues to implement the initiative of citizen participatory budget. All the process from inviting citizens to suggest work and its scrutiny by the civic administration at ward office is being done before including them in the draft budget. This year there were less number of proposals so there is a decrease in budgetary provision,” said civic officer.

The good response in last few years was due to the awareness campaign and the provision of submitting proposals through online facility, he said adding, “For 2015-16, the online facility could not be made available on time. Also, the elections during the last year shifted the focus on creating awareness on it.”

Naim Keruwala of Janwani said the good response to the initiative in last two years was due to awareness and guidance provided to citizens to fill up the application for suggesting development works of their respective area. “The civic administration delayed permission to start the online facility for the citizen participatory budget and it could be made available only for the last five days before the deadline,” he said adding the provisions under citizen participatory budget might not have increased as in the past few years but it has not dropped considerably.

However, it means that there should be continuous public awareness for encouraging citizen to participate in development of their area, Keruwala said. Civic activist Vivek Velankar said that the initiative of citizen participation has been good but there is a fear of citizens losing hope over it. “The civic administration fails to reach out to public on the initiative and there has been no audit on the implementation of the initiative. All the suggestions are not included in the budget and only few of those accepted are actually implemented,” he said adding the citizens are losing interest in the initiative as they failed to see the desired result.

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