The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation administration has sent a proposal to its standing committee, seeking additional funds to the tune of Rs 400 crore for Covid-19-related preparations till March 2021. The proposal is likely to trigger another tussle between the administration and corporators who have questioned the civic body’s expenditure incurred in the name of fighting the pandemic.
According to the civic administration, so far Rs 1,632 crore has been spent from its contingency funds on the pandemic-related preparations. Currently, Rs 29 crore remains in the contingency fund.
As per data, the civic body has spent the maximum sum of Rs 453.11 crore on Seven Hills Hospital, following Rs 213.08 crore on creation and upkeep of jumbo care facilities. Officials said that till April 1, 2020, the contingency fund had Rs 852 crore and the entire sum was utilised in fighting the pathogen attack. Later, considering the requirement of more funds, the BMC churned out Rs 300 crore from its own budget and sought Rs 60 crore aid from the state. In August, the civic body curtailed its budget and accumulated Rs 1,662 crore further for the pandemic preparation as a contingency fund backup.
The BMC has now urged the standing committee to approve all these rejiggings that have already been implemented. It has also appealed to the panel to allow another transfer of funds from the regular budget kitty to this contingency fund of Rs 400 to be used to fight the pandemic. “Since during the lockdown no meetings were held, these expenditures need approval from the Standing Committee now,” said a BMC official.
The standing committee recently raised concern over the expenditure of over Rs 100 crore on food packets by the BMC authorities. The committee members sought an explanation for the spending and asked for an audit into the expenses. “The BMC has already spent Rs 1,632 crore and is now expecting a sanction of another Rs 400 crore. The BMC should explain why such exorbitant prices were paid,” said Samajwadi Party MLA and standing committee member Rais Shaikh.
Though some reports suggest that the BMC would set a separate budget for Covid-19 next year, the reshuffling and budget slash of other departments have helped the authorities for now. However, this would result in stalling of several projects under planning and at various stages of construction.
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