Twenty-four-hour water supply by 2014, a sparkling city in a year and cosmetic projects to beautify the city are the highlights of the civic budget presented by Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak on Tuesday.
The richest civic body in India — the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) — has got the fattest budget of Rs 19,931 crore, in the time of recession. Fortunately, it has not put more tax burden on citizens.
The budget — Rs 3,139 crore higher than last year’s Rs 16,792 crore — was presented to the Standing Committee by Phatak.
It aims at bettering the basic infrastructure such as regular drinking water supply and also dolling up the city. The BMC has ambitious plans to ensure 24-hour water supply by 2014.
On January 30, Hindustan Times had reported that there would be no hike in civic taxes and the stress would be on infrastructure and a cosmetic makeover of the city.
The clean city plan is being implemented through schemes such as slum adoption and Clean Area Scheme under which citizen groups will be roped in. The BMC will not take up any new major projects, apparently due to a projected shortfall in its revenue due to recession. Priority will be given to finish incomplete projects, Phatak said.
Moreover, the BMC has to spend funds on the ongoing projects as committed under the Centre’s Urban Renewal Mission meant for rebuilding basic infrastructure of big cities, with funds from Centre, state and BMC.
Mumbai’s water supply and stormwater drains projects fall under the same scheme and the city needs to build them considering its growing population.
With parliamentary and assembly polls this year, the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP alliance has ensured a substantial provision for beautifying the city. That includes the grand plan to set up a wax museum on the lines of Madame Tussauds.
“We might be facing some change in economics because of the recession. But that does not mean we bring a halt to beautification projects. We can afford a wax museum,” he said.
Experts are not sure whether plans like 24-hour water supply and 100 per cent cleanliness in the city are feasible.
Water conservation expert Madhav Chitale said: “It is feasible only if the civic body gets trained engineering staff only for water supply. Also, the BMC will have to do a lot of ground work such as metering.”
Experts said that the cleanliness campaign could be possible only with citizens’ participation.