On an average, six out of every seven announcements made by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in its 2014-15 budget are yet to be implemented.
A preliminary reading of an 111-page report on the current financial year’s performance reveals that about 75 major announcements were made last year, of which most are still to be implemented, just days before Municipal Commisisoner Sitaram Kunte tables his budget estimates for 2015-2016.
The richest civic body in the country, the BMC had announced budget allocations of Rs 31,000 crore for 2014-15. It is now anticipated that Kunte’s budget speech on Wednesday will be bereft of any major new projects, with the civic body expected to concentrate on completion of pending projects.
Though announced with much fanfare, the civic body’s ambitious plans to map underground utilities to remove bottlenecks from congested roads, introduce web-based parking systems and conduct an overall traffic study to decongest city roads are yet to take off. The much-talked about hawker policy, expected to streamline street vendors in the city, has also been delayed.
The health department too is yet to implement a majority of projects announced. The Borivali-based civic-run Bhagvati Hospital’s commissioning has been delayed for over a year now. The hospital was expected to start its out patient department and medical services by May 2014, followed by phase-wise commencement of other facilities. However, eight months later, the hospital has not yet opened its gates to the suburban population, forcing an additional burden on Kandivli-based Shatabdi Hospital.
For the third consecutive year, the BMC has also severely underutilised funds allocated for its Gardens department, which has spent a meagre seven per cent of the allocated funds by December 2014. Of the Rs 363.17 crore allocated for 2014-15, only Rs 27.77 crore was spent. While Rs 2,500 crore were allotted to the roads department, haphazard planning and lack of co-ordination with different departments resulted in delays in taking up road repairs in the city. The BMC’s ambitious mobility plan for the city, the new trenching policy, a think-tank for solving infrastructure issues are also yet to see the light of day.
Senior civic officials blame the two major elections, where majority of the civic staff was on-duty, for the delays. However, S V R Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner in-charge of the roads department said, “We are in the process of creating a mobility plan. We have also issued orders for setting up a think-tank and are working on the trenching policy also.”
The BMC’s negligence towards fund utilisation in the solid waste management (SWM) department is also apparent. Till the end of December, only 13 per cent of the Rs 55.35 crore allocated was utlised, a slight improvement from the 9 per cent that was utlised in 2013-14. Though the BMC has initiated the debris-on-call service, corporators and citizens have complained about poor delivery of services. The BMC is also still to complete tendering for its ambitious waste-to-energy project. Its plans to beautify the Mumbai shoreline and beaches with a view to attract more tourists has also failed to take off.