Concerned about instances of ‘exorbitant expenditure’ by civic bodies, especially while constructing and furnishing municipal properties, the Maharashtra government has specified the amount that can be spent on furniture and construction work of civic buildings.
A government resolution issued on Tuesday stated, “There have been contradictions in estimated cost and actual cost… this leads to exorbitant expenditure on civic works. Thus, the state government, in consultation with the state public works department, is fixing the rates for furniture and construction activities by civic bodies…”
As per its policy decision, the amount spent on furniture in all municipal corporations should be between Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000 per sq metre. However, it has fixed different rates for construction work in different civic bodies.
For civic bodies that fall within Pune division, the construction rates are between Rs 22,000 and Rs 25,000 per sq metre.
The maximum construction rates are for civic bodies within the Mumbai division — between Rs 25,000 and Rs 28,500 per sq metre. “The same rates would be applicable for civic projects funded by the government..,” stated the resolution. It added that the authorities concerned should ensure that civic bodies follow the rates from this month while preparing the estimated cost of civic projects.
Incidentally, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has attracted flak over the exorbitant estimated cost of its project to revamp the 24X7 water supply system. Recently, the civic body had to scrap the tender process after facing allegations of inflating the estimated cost.
The state government also had to intervene in a few civic projects of the PMC after doubts were raised over their estimated costs. However, civic activist Vivek Velankar said that the state government should not have consulted the state Public Works Department. “If the state government wants to keep a check on expenditure by civic bodies on infrastructure work, then the rates for the same should be fixed by an independent expert agency,” he said.
The Maharashtra government has also decided to increase its share of funding for basic civic infrastructure work in municipal corporations from 50 per cent to 75 per cent. “The state government used to fund 50 per cent of the cost of basic civic works and the civic body bore the remaining 50 per cent cost. However, there are many municipal corporations that can’t raise 50 per cent funds to avail the benefit from the state government and the civic infrastructure suffers…,” stated the government resolution.
The resolution clarified that the state government would pay 75 per cent of the cost for basic civic infrastructure work while the municipal corporations would have to raise 25 per cent of the cost.