It seems the Chandigarh municipal corporation has forgotten its poor. Nearly 25,000 below poverty line (BPL) families in the city are allegedly being deprived of the basic amenities as the MC did not allocate the 25% of the total budget meant for the urban poor, which is mandatory according to the norms of the ministry of housing urban and poverty alleviation.
In 2007, the union ministry had directed the state government and the union territories to allocate the minimum 25% of the budget for the urban poor. However, the Chandigarh MC never proposed the said budget in the past five years.
The funds are to be allocated for providing basic amenities, including water, sanitation, public health and primary education, to the poor. According to the ministry norms, at least 25% of the municipal budget should be allocated for the urban poor.
According to the records, Gujarat was the first state to adopt a policy for earmarking 20% of its budget for the urban poor and has made it mandatory for the urban local bodies in the state to earmark the same proportion of their budget for provision of services to the urban poor.
Andhra Pradesh has directed the municipal bodies to allocate 40% of the budget for the urban poor.
Manoj Teotia, senior research fellow, Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, Sector 19, said, “It is unfortunate that the MC has not followed the instructions of the ministry and it has deprived the urban poor even of the basics.
It is one of the three major reforms the ministry has initiated to improve the condition of the poor. The Chandigarh MC has allegedly never implemented the ministry directions of allocating the internal budget for basic services to the urban poor.”
Mayor Raj Bala Malik said, “We will make a proposal for the said budget in the next financial year after working out the modalities.”
BJP councillor Davesh Moudgil said, “The Congress has been ruling the MC for the past 10 years. It never took steps to uplift the poor and downtrodden sections of the city. Their tall claims have fallen flat as even in the current proposed budget, the MC has not allocated 25% budget for the poor.”