Contrary to the impressive budget outlays of Rs 33,537 crore for the current financial year, the BMC has managed to spend only 25 per cent of the allocations.
While corporators from parties such as Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress attribute the cause to political tension within the BMC, the BJP and Shiv Sena stated that the expenditure figure would rise sharply during the remaining financial year.
Among various categories, the project works department has only managed to spend 21.6 per cent of its allocation of Rs 11,800 crore. Though the road department has done relatively better, only 33 per cent of the allocation of Rs 3,200 crore has been utilised. Among the lowest ranking departments, solid waste management has only utilised about 7 per cent of the budgeted funds and the information technology department has utilised about 1.8 per cent.
SP corporator Rais Shaikh stated that the low utilisation was due to the conflict between BJP and Sena. “BJP wants to show the Sena in a bad light and is using BMC to achieve their goal. There are indirect orders to delay the implementation of policies as well as projects which leaves the residents of Mumbai at the receiving end. They are being deprived of services that were announced during the budget session,” he said. He added that public health (13 per cent) and solid waste management (7 per cent) departments have turned out to be non-performing. “The road department has done relatively well. However, the overall performance is far below expected standard,” he added.
Sharing his view, Pravin Chheda, a Congress corporator, stated that the plans that were announced at the beginning of the financial year have failed. “The constant play of belittling between Sena and BJP is costing the city and depriving the people of promised services,” he said.
Corporators said at this time of the year, 60-65 per cent of budgeted funds should have been spent.
Speaking in defence of the ruling combine, BJP corporators Manoj Kotak and Vinod Shelar stated that the current figures depict an incomplete picture. “There is political game going on. After the budget was cleared in March, work only starts in June. From June to October, there are rains due to which work only starts after that. Work gains momentum in January. So the figure right now considers the submitted bills and will rise,” said Kotak.
Though Sena corporators defended the low utilisation of funds and said they expected it to rise by a considerable margin, Kishori Pednekar, a Sena corporator, said, “The BMC has done a lot of work this year. However, the central and state governments’ role will have negative repercussions.”