In an attempt to improve the standard of living of minority communities, the Maharashtra government had, for the financial year 2015-16, come up with an initiative to provide special funds to urban local bodies, to carry out infrastructure work in localities where 10 per cent or more of the population comprised minorities.
As many as 22 projects, worth Rs 1.90 crore, have been approved for the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), but the civic body has faced some problems while executing them.
One of the problems is: the civic projects have to be undertaken in localities with at least 10 per cent minority population, but the PMC administration seemed to be unsure about such localities. “The PMC area is divided into 16 ward offices… all of them were asked to furnish a list of localities with at least 10 per cent minority population in their respective jurisdictions. None of the ward offices was able to give the information, despite reminders. They argued that they do not have such data,” said a civic officer.The state government’s scheme entails
The state government’s scheme entails provision of special funds that can be used to improve infrastructure in localities with a significant percentage of the population are from minority communities including Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jain, Sikhs and Parsis. The projects to improve the standard of living of the minority community should be planned in such a way that maximum members of the community should benefit from them, said the state government.
Moreover, a list of the 22 approved civic projects to “improve the standard of living”, obtained by The Indian Express, revealed that as many as six of the works pertained to the concretisation of roads, with a provision of Rs 10 lakh per work, three were projects to lay paver blocks for roads, and others were projects to install drainage pipeline, and water supply line.
As there had been a significant amount of delay in procuring special funds for the projects, PMC authorities decided to go ahead and obtain the approval of the Standing Committee and the General Body, even without adequate information about such areas, said the officer.
On August 8, the PMC Standing Committee approved the administration’s proposal to empower the municipal commissioner to implement the civic works “under special funds category”, and to propose new projects in the future.
Special funds have been allocated for civic works that would contribute towards improving the standard of living of minority communities living in localities with at least 10 per cent minority population. A total of 22 civic works amounting to Rs 1.9 crore have been approved by the state government, but the PMC cannot receive the funds unless there is approval from the general body meeting,” said Shrinivas Kandul, superintendent engineer and nodal officer to co-ordinate with state government.
He said the state government had allocated special funds in 2015-16 for the initiative, but the civic body was unable to benefit from them as it had not received the necessary approval from the PMC general body. “If the PMC does not carry out the process of getting GB approval, then the funds would lapse and the civic body would not be able to take advantage of them…,” said Kandul. The question, as articulated by civic activist N Shelar, is “When the civic body does not have exact data of the presence of minority population in any locality, how will it improve their standard of living.”
The list of civic projects also includes construction of a cultural hall at Kothrud for the Muslim community at a cost of Rs 10 lakh, and basic infrastructure work at an Urdu medium PMC-run school in Raviwar Peth for Rs 4 lakh.
It also includes infrastructure development at a burial ground in Kagdipura in Kasba Peth for Rs 3 lakh, at Dulha-Dulhan Kabristan at Mominpura in Mahatma Phule Peth at a cost of Rs 5 lakh, at Bahari Samaj Kabrasthan in Lohiyanagar at Rs 5 lakh, a burial ground at Kondhwa Budhruk at a cost of Rs 10 lakh, Surkabdal Kabarisatan in Raviwar Peth at a cost of Rs 10 lakh and a burial ground near Daruwala bridge in Ganesh Peth at a cost of Rs 3 lakh.