Coffers full, but unkept promises pile up

Of the 70 announcements it made, only 20 have been implemented.

Mumbai | Updated: February 6, 2014 11:30:42 am
The cash-rich BMC is expected to announce a budget touching Rs 29,000 crore for the next fiscal. The cash-rich BMC is expected to announce a budget touching Rs 29,000 crore for the next fiscal.

Three out of every four announcements made by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in its Budget 2013-14 are yet to be implemented. A reading of last year’s 105-page Budget speech reveals that around 70 announcements were made. Of this, just about 20 have been implemented.

The cash-rich BMC, which presented a Rs 27,500-crore budget in 2013-14, is expected to announce a budget touching Rs 29,000 crore for the next fiscal. To be tabled Wednesday, it is expected to include sops for the urban poor, keeping the upcoming elections in mind.

Although announced with much fanfare, the ambitious plan to map underground utilities to avoid potholes, removal of bottlenecks from congested roads, web-based parking and an overall traffic simulation study to decongest city roads is yet to take off.

The health department, too, is yet to complete most of its promised projects. A plan to upgrade and brand all civic dispensaries is yet to see any headway. Another proposal to open 13 new dispensaries in areas identified through a gap analysis and increasing the number of dispensaries with diagnostic facilities and upgrading five maternity homes in eastern and western suburbs has also not seen much movement.

Typical of government departments where expenditure is bunched in the last quarter of the year, the BMC’s garden department has utilised barely 11 per cent of its total allocation. Of the total eight budget announcements relating to this department, a plan to conduct a tree census this year, rescue and utilise sewer water for watering needs of the gardens, conservation and development of water bodies and forming an animal welfare department are yet to take off.

While the civic body’s pothole reporting website registered about 20,000 complaints this monsoon, the BMC has not done much to improve the condition of city roads. Further, with almost 22 per cent of the total civic budget allotted to road infrastructure of the city, officials have failed to utilise even 25 per cent.

Citing legal hassles, bureaucratic and administrative delays, senior civic officials said that pending tenders have resulted in a delay in taking up road concretisation and asphalting projects.

While Rs 320 crore was allotted to the bridges department, the crucial audit of 58 dangerous bridges in the city is yet to begin.

“There is a difference of opinion on whether the audit should be outsourced or conducted by BMC officials, leading to a delay in floating tenders,” said a department official.

While most of the road projects are yet to take shape, the BMC has successfully implemented the road management & maintenance system (RMMS), which fixes responsibility of city roads on individual civic officials and penalizes them for failing to fix potholes.

Other projects such as identification and development of gardens and open spaces in each ward, Arogya camps for diabetes, TB and other such disease have been completed by the BMC.

The BMC’s apathy is also apparent in its negligible use of funds meant for the fire brigade. The department has spent a meagre three per cent of its allotted budget for 2013-14 as compared to seven per cent in the previous fiscal. While over 100 people have died in various fires and building collapses last year, the civic administration’s fire department continues to sit on proposals to procure the much-needed fire engines and other equipment to tackle such disasters. The fire department is yet to procure snorkel for fire-fighting in high-rises. While a proposal for acquiring a snorkel for the Gowalia Tank fire station, with a capacity to go up to 90 ft was floated close to two years ago, the tender has been stuck due to bureaucratic delays.

Further, after it promised environment-friendly measures like beautification and development of gardens, the civic administration is yet to start work on six of the eight budget announcements regarding the same.

What’s yet to be done

*  Dedicated statistics cell for gathering and analysing data to improve decision making
*  Marine Drive road concretisation project
*  Implementation of a policy to remove road bottlenecks
*  Implementation of web-based parking at public parking lots
*  Inventory of 261 dangerous bridges in the city
*  Resurfacing and repairing of bridges
*  Dispensary upgrade and branding programme
*  Increasing number of dispensaries with diagnostic facilities
*  Pet parks and animal welfare cell
*  Survey of children up to 14 years to aid mainstream education programmes
*  Implementing public-private-partnership policy in BMC schools to improve the quality of education
*  Gap analysis of toilet blocks

What BMC achieved

* Helpline for stress and depression
* Blueprint for tuberculosis reduction and control
* Dialysis services on public-private-partnership basis to provide 50 dialysis beds in major hospitals
* MRI centres in suburbs (Shatabdi in Kandivali, and Govandi)
* Ajgaonkar Trauma hospital
* Paying beds for middle-class at Cooper Hospital, Shatabdi and Jogeshwari trauma hospital
* 75-bed chemotherapy services at Nair Hospital
* Town Planning Department
* Karate training to women
* Banner and hoarding-free city

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