Updated: March 27, 2021 6:57:51 pm
In its first budget since the new BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) Act, 2020 came into force, the municipal body governing the Karnataka capital has decided to spend a whopping Rs 2,000 crore towards decentralisation efforts in the city. This fund is expected to enable financial and administrative decentralisation at the zonal, ward, and assembly-constituency levels of areas falling under the jurisdiction of BBMP.
“Our vision is with the active involvement of citizens, we would be able to devolve at least 50% of BBMP’s budgets to the zonal level within the next few years. We now make a beginning by devolving about Rs 2,000 crores to the zones even for disbursement. This beginning carries the seeds of revolutionary change in the way BBMP functions,” Special Commissioner (Finance) Thulasi Maddineni said. She was presenting the BBMP budget for the 2021-22 fiscal in the presence of BBMP Administrator Gaurav Gupta and Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad. The budget for the upcoming fiscal, just days away from its commencement, is estimated to be at Rs 9287.81 crore.
Presented in the absence of an elected council, the budget also highlighted “fiscal discipline” as its basic focus. Revamping the job number system for all BBMP works and physical inspection by a technical vigilance cell under the Commissioner are two ways proposed by the civic body to achieve this.
No hike in property tax
However, in a relief for citizens impacted by financial stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic, BBMP decided not to increase tax rates. “BBMP runs on the taxes paid by the citizens. We are aware of the economic distress caused by Covid-19 and therefore the tax rates are not increased. However, our resource mobilization has to improve to provide better services to the citizens,” Maddineni explained. BBMP has also decided to incentivise citizens’ participation in tax collection by proposing to give 1% of the property tax collected in each ward to the ward committee to enable various works. Officials clarified that such works would be consolidated and approved at the Assembly Constituency consultative committee level for execution.
Rs 1,622.23 crore for solid waste management
Further, BBMP has earmarked Rs 1,622.23 crores (including Rs 522 crores spent for ongoing) towards solid waste management. “We are very much mindful of the creation of an independent body for SWM, but this amount has been provided considering that the body is still in the inception stage and would need financial support from BBMP for some time to come,” Maddineni said. In addition to the aim of achieving ODF++ standards (safe management and treatment protocol envisioned by Swachh Bharat Mission), the BBMP has decided to add 67 more public toilets across the city.
However, as the sweeping of streets would continue, BBMP has decided not to procure items required for it. Instead, it has been proposed to provide Rs 200 on a monthly basis to each powrakarmika (sanitation worker) to purchase brooms, gloves and boots. In addition to this, each powrakarmika will get Rs 5,000 on B R Ambedkar’s birthday (celebrated as powarakarmikas’ day by BBMP) via direct payment system, the budget stated.
Rs 20 lakh per ward for footpath repair
Meanwhile, the local body attributed allocation for the repair of footpaths to responses from the ‘My City My Budget’ campaign. Funds to the tune of Rs 20 lakh per ward will be provided, as per the budget. “Our goal is to ensure 1,000 Kilometers of walkable footpath at the rate of at least 5 Kilometers per ward using these funds,” it stated. Janaagaraha, a city-based non-profit working on urban governance issues, had earlier sent inputs from 9,706 citizens regarding the same.
“Ward Committees and citizens now have the clear opportunity to identify areas in their wards where footpath improvements will aid walkability for senior citizens, women, and children, create new footpaths in high transit areas to improve pedestrian safety,” Sapna Karim, Head of Civic Participation at Janaagaraha said.
3% allocation for public health
The BBMP has decided to allocate Rs 337 crores (3 per cent of total budget) towards medical expenses under public health and clinical wings. This is in addition to the amount that will be provided by the Karnataka government based upon caseload and need, the budget mentioned. BBMP had spent nearly Rs 90 crore of the total Rs 300 crore provided by the state government towards Covid expenditure.
“We are also aware that providing specialty services is not one of our strengths, therefore we intend to partner with private medical colleges for provision of specialist doctors services at our referral hospitals. A model MoU is under preparation and with due approvals, this will be implemented to provide quality care in BBMP hospitals,” Maddineni said during the presentation. Rs 82.04 crore was earmarked for health and education programmes of the city during the previous fiscal.
Among other major highlights of the budget are nearly Rs 1,000 crore (from state government) set aside for restoration of 291 roads dug up for various water and sanitary line works, Rs 546.89 crore towards social welfare activities, and Rs 279 crores towards air quality management (arranged from 15th Finance Commission).
“The Government of Karnataka has provided a grant of Rs 3000 crores under SIP which is more than what we have received in the year 2020-21. This will enable us to ensure faster completion of ongoing works,” Maddineni clarified.
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