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Quota for women sees few takers for extra funds

The 50 per cent reservation for women corporators in local bodies has led to an unusual year-end trend in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

Written by Stuti Shukla | Mumbai |
January 2, 2012 2:21:24 am

The 50 per cent reservation for women corporators in local bodies has led to an unusual year-end trend in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

While it is a common practice for Mumbai’s corporators to pull strings towards getting additional funding for their wards,this year,hardly any corporators have done so,as most won’t be recontesting from their own wards,owing to the quota.

While most of the 227 corporators have sent letters during the past four years seeking additional funds for their areas under the Local Area Development (LAD) funds to the ward committee and the central accounts and finance department,this year only 15 corporators have written to the department with just a month before the budget estimates for the following financial year are presented by the municipal commissioner. An official said usually the department is flooded with letters from corporators during this time,but this year it is not the same. “We have learnt that due to 50 per cent reservation for women,most corporators will not be able to contest from the same ward again and this has left them with no incentive to seek more funds for their wards. Maybe those corporators who are confident of getting a ticket from the adjoining ward have come with the letters this time,” the official said.

Some corporators’ explanation for not seeking additional funds is that all the work has been completed in their wards and there is nothing left to be done now. The additional funds sought are mostly for building toilets or pathways in slums,improvement or widening of the drainage network in the area,development of a garden etc. Each corporator routinely asks for at least Rs 10-crore fund,while in reality barely five to 10 per cent of it gets sanctioned as per the LAD rule.

However,there are other candid corporators who admit that reservation is the main reason behind this trend. A Congress corporator requesting anonymity said a lot of corporators would not be contesting this time due to reservation for women. “Many sitting corporators are going to be left out and the remaining ones know that they will have to contest from another ward. Because of this,none of them has bothered to seek more funds,” he said. Besides,Municipal Commissioner Subodh Kumar’s move to cancel the corporators’ fund of Rs 1 crore this year,and instead increase the Local Area Development funds from Rs 35 lakh to Rs 60 lakh,is also being seen as a reason.

Congress corporator Sameer Desai said corporators were certain that they would not get what they were asking for. “If our total local funds have been reduced from Rs 1.35 crore to Rs 60 lakh,which corporator will expect any increase in funding for his or her area in the revised budget estimates?” said Desai. He added that only a handful of the 227 letters get actually implemented by the BMC administration.

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