A DAY after the Union Budget gave Chandigarh only 33 per cent under the plan head of what was demanded —the administration had sought Rs 2,095 crore and got only Rs 700 crore — UT Special Secretary (Finance) Bhawna Garg said that they had taken up the matter with the Centre.
Asked what the fate would be of the projects worth crores of rupees, Garg said, “UT has raised the demand with Government of India.”
However, it is the Municipal Corporation which is feeling the pinch. The civic body has got just Rs 84.70 crore under the plan head from the UT Administration as part of the budgetary allocation. That is going to delay some projects planned for the city.
Expecting a grant-in-aid of Rs 547.70 crore from the UT, the MC had accordingly passed a budget of Rs 572.40 crore under the plan head. Under the plan head, all the developmental works are carried out while under the non-plan head, salaries of employees and other statutory payments are given. MC’s own projected income is just Rs 158 crore of which some has to be shelled out for non-plan expenditure as well.
In its budget, the MC had passed a water project for which Rs 250 crore is required. An amount of Rs 124.50 crore was approved for buildings and roads.
An immediate way out for the MC is to generate more revenue. The options available to them are: they may recover pending dues like those from water connections, auction vacant booths, rent out encroached properties, and impose entry tax on vehicles entering the city from other states.
However, Mayor Arun Sood asserts that “not a single project will suffer”. “In fact, in the last few years, the budget utilisation by the Congress was very less. So accordingly, the budget was given. The government is streamlining everything,” he said. “I assure the city residents that I will get the required budget for the city and not a single project will suffer.”
Congress councillor Subhash Chawla maintains that the MC should have passed its budget after the Union Budget. “Only for roads, the MC has allocated Rs 60 crore. This is some expenditure which has to be incurred every year, so one can’t ignore it. Due to poor maintenance, Rs 33.35 crore was allocated for fire and emergency services this time. The budget limit has already crossed,” he said.
“Do you think the administration will give Rs 250 crore for water and Rs 90 crore for hospitals when their own budget is just Rs 700 crore?” asked Chawla.
Already, the plan budget of the civic body was slashed by 23 per cent few months ago and some projects were put on hold. “Not just these new projects but already there are many pending projects where payments have to be made because there was a cut,” said Darshan Garg, a Congress councillor.