Big BMC budget,little spending time

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation may have come out with its biggest budget ever. But using the whopping Rs 19,931 crore to implement its projects will turn be a big problem.

Written by Shweta Desai | Mumbai | Published: March 9, 2009 4:12:22 am

Two elections,with monsoon in between,set to curtail working season,delay civic projects

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) may have come out with its biggest budget ever. But using the whopping Rs 19,931 crore to implement its projects will turn be a big problem.

There will be roughly five months to get the work done. With the city gearing up for two elections with the monsoon sandwiched in between,there will be only five ‘working season months’ available. Corporators and civic officials have started expressing fears over delays in crucial projects,most importantly that of the road department.

From March till May (Lok Sabha elections) and again from August-end to October (scheduled Vidhan Sabha) the civic body will be unable to implement any new work or sanction funds for new projects owing to the Model Code of Conduct.

By the time the Lok Sabha elections are over,monsoon will begin,practically halting all infrastructure work. And by the time monsoon is over,the Model Code will once again be in place for the assembly elections,expected in October.

This means that in effect,there will be only five months of fair season (November till March) available to use the funds and carry out the planned work,said a senior civic official. Owing to the Model Code,the budget for 2009-10 is still pending final approval by the General Body.

The biggest brunt will be faced by the road department which has increased budgetary allocation and undertaken more works than last year. As against 2008-09 (Rs 944.76 crore for 147.08 m of asphalting and concreting),the road department is budgeted to carry out works of Rs 960.53 crore for 216.92 m.

The new work,at least for the road department,can only begin after November once the assembly elections are over. This is because the civic administration prohibits digging on the roads by first week of May.

“So,even if the Lok Sabha elections are over,no work involving road excavation can be carried out,” the official said.

“Most of the paperwork was completed last year and the road work is already in progress. For new works we will issue tenders after the assembly elections and ensure the work is completed by March next year,” said chief engineer,roads,D S Ghorpade.

For the corporators,the worry of a curtailment of the working season still remains a worry. According to a notification by the civic administration last year,corporators have to get the allotment of funds for their ward level works by January 31 or the latest by second week of February.

BJP leader Bhalchandra Shirsat said that corporators will find it difficult to finish all ward-level works. “There will be little time to finish administrative works and implement the projects. We are planning to complete the paperwork by the time assembly polls get over so that actual work can begin in the available time,” he said.

“The civic administration will have to co-operate with the corporators by making the contractors stick to deadlines. We will have to identify the works and finish the paperwork and ensure that all approvals are sought before the Model Code for the assembly elections is in place,” said Congress corporator Amin Patel.

“However,corporators who do not identify the work that needs to be done in their wards and get the required permissions will be in deep trouble this year,” he said.

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