In its first general body meeting since the pandemic-induced lockdown, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has approved a Rs 2,500-crore cut from capital works expenditure for financial year 2020-21. The move was necessitated due to falling revenue precipitated by the lockdown.
The meeting on Thursday chaired by Mayor Kishori Pednekar cleared several budget cuts — Rs 500 crore cut from the 9.98-km coastal road project, Rs 440 crore from Gargai dam project, Rs 223 crore from roads department and Rs 500 crore from financial aid promised to ailing Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST). The civic body had made budgetary allocation of Rs 2,000 crore for coastal road project, Rs 503.53 crore for Gargai dam project and Rs 1,600 crore for road repair works for 2020-21.
Other budgetary cuts are — Rs 43 crore from footpath improvement funds for which Rs 50 crore allocation had been made, Rs 48 crore from construction of missing links as mentioned in Development Plan 2034, and Rs 100 crore from key waste management projects related to dumping grounds and debris recycling plants.
While the budget cuts will not have much of a bearing on big ticket infrastructure projects like the coastal road, there will be a visible effect of the cuts on public utility projects like footpath improvements, concretisation of roads, revamp of Byculla zoo, Gargai dam, beautifications of Bandra fort, construction of public toilets, replacement of pipelines and drainage improvement.
In February, then municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi had presented a budget of Rs 33,441 crore for 2020-21, of which Rs 14,647 crore was for development projects. Due to Covid-19, the civic body has suffered revenue losses of over Rs 1,000 crore in last five months and estimates that losses will go up to Rs 12,000 crore by the end of financial year.
Officials said the increase in funds for corporators has also impacted many development projects as this year there is a hike of about Rs 200 crore compared to last year. “The increase in funds for political parties has impacted many big development projects including financial aid to BEST,” said a BMC official. Shiv Sena-led BMC cleared Rs 728 crore fund for all parties on Thursday.
Officials said the cut in financial aid to BEST will affect hiring of new buses. “So far about 1,000 buses have been hired on wet lease and BEST is supposed to hire a total of 6,000 buses. BEST operations will be hit if financial help is withdrawn,” said a BMC official.
For the coastal road, the civic body claims the cut will not have any impact as work has slowed down to the pandemic.
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