Levelling allegations of corruption against the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in the BMC, the Congress Monday released a “chargesheet” citing instances of the parties’ “failure” to provide amenities in departments such as roads, storm water drains, hydraulic engineering, fire brigade and others. The document was released by party MP Shashi Tharoor and its Mumbai president Sanjay Nirupam.
The “chargesheet” points out scams in the storm water drains, roads, education and solid waste management departments. It also highlights issues of buildings without occupation certificates, noise and air pollution, lack of adequate healthcare facilities, lack of open spaces as well as the poor quality of civic-run schools. For instance, it states that despite an expenditure of Rs 14,000 crore in the past six years, the condition of BMC schools could not be improved. Similarly, it claims that municipal hospitals have one bed for 4,500 patients, while the upper limit is 1,000 patients.
The document adds that one public health centre at present caters to one lakh people, when it should be for 30,000 people. Attributing the issues to the “mismanagement and misgovernance” by the Sena-BJP, Tharoor said that while the two were hurling insults at each other, both were to be blamed. “They have been equally complicit in misgovernance of the city for the past 20 years. It is a sad deterioration of the services people are entitled to and the BMC with a budget of Rs 38,000 crore has no excuse for its incompetence. Mumbai deserves better and Mumbaikars deserve better,” Tharoor said.
Questioning the numerous scams in the civic body, he emphasised the need for a third-party audit of finances. “In the last five years, no independent third-party audit has been conducted. If it were done, all allegations could have been proved or disproved,” the Congress MP said. Referring to the poor condition of the city’s roads, he said, “Rs 28,000 crore has been spent on roads in the past 10 years. One can build a new city with that money. But in Mumbai, there are 13 times more potholes than last year and 67 per cent of the road accidents have been of two-wheelers.” Tharoor also referred to the dwindling numbers of students in the city’s municipal schools. “Thirty eight Marathi medium schools have been closed in the past five years and 40,000 Marathi students have left BMC schools even though it spends Rs 5,000 on every student,” he said.
The Congress’s manifesto is expected next week and Tharoor stated that the party had emphasised on aspects such as property tax. “We have focused on issues such as drinking water, health, education, and most importantly women’s welfare, something that has been neglected by the both the BJP and the Shiv Sena,” he said. In response, leader of the house and Sena corporator Trushna Vishwasrao said that the allegations had no basis, since the civic administration was responsible for tabling proposals in the Standing Committee. “The proposals are prepared by the administration, which is headed by the municipal commissioner who directly reports to the chief minister. In that case, how can allegations be levelled against us? Our only right is to give approvals and the BJP has approved all the proposals with us,” Vishwasrao said, adding that those guilty of involvement in the scams have been held accountable in inquiries conducted against them.