In the first phase of the Mumbai Beautification Plan, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has earmarked a Rs-790 crore fund for carrying out a number of beautification and development exercises that would mainly comprise illumination work across the city.
In the run up to the upcoming civic elections, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had directed the BMC to announce the Mumbai Beautification Plan on September 16. As part of this initiative, the civic body has planned to beautify the city in the next three months and allotted a Rs 1,700-crore fund for the same.
Earlier, during the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government rule, former minister Aaditya Thackeray had initiated the Tactical Urbanism (TU) project, which also involved beautification and upgradation of civic amenities. However, civic officials maintained that the TU project is different from the Beautification Plan, as the former was focused towards improving the ease of living while the second one focuses only on beautification works.
Senior civic officials said that the money will be spent in a phased manner since the projects require participation of several departments of the civic body.
Out of the Rs 790 crore that the BMC will be spending in the first phase, a lion’s share, of Rs 500 crore, has been allotted for concretising and resurfacing the roads of Mumbai.
Officials said that besides beautifying the city, improving the existing roads is also of utmost importance.
For the Rs 500-crore road work, the BMC will be taking up prioritised action on some of the worst-affected stretches in Mumbai,which also include the 21 roads that municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal had mentioned during a hearing session at the Bombay High Court on September 30. The work will include concretisation and resurfacing using mastic asphalt.
For the first phase, a fund of Rs 78 crore has been allotted for developing public toilets, which would include installation of CCTV cameras, solar channels and charging points.
The BMC has also allotted Rs 60 crore in the current phase for carrying out beautification works across the city using stamp concreting; another Rs 40 crore has been allotted for illuminating the existing skywalks of Mumbai.
“In the first phase, Rs 790 crore has been allotted out of which Rs 60 crore has already been disbursed among various civic departments for carrying out emergency works on priority basis. The primary reason why we are using the money in a phased manner is because it is only after assessing the requirements of a subject that the money will be transferred to the department concerned. This will be a smoother process and will also be transparent,” said P Velrasu, additional municipal commissioner (Projects).
Besides this, the BMC has allotted a fund of Rs 25 crore each to the Heritage Cell and Solid Waste Management (SWM) department for illuminating the forts and beaches of Mumbai.
“The key point of this beautification plan is to improve the visual appeal of Mumbai. There are many places in the city like skywalks, roads and beaches that are poorly lit and consist of blind spots as well. Our objective is to get rid of these blind spots by carrying out illumination. Another aspect of this project is to make the city look good visually as per international standards,” Velrasu said.
Ravi Raja, former Leader of Opposition (LoP) and corporator from the Congress, said that the BMC also needs to involve citizens for transparency. “Beautification of a city is a long-term plan and the BMC has created a short road map of three years. There needs to be a record of where the money is being spent since it is public money. There have been instances earlier where we have seen the BMC administration using money for catering to the needs of projects that would favour the government and I hope the same thing is not being repeated,” Raja said.