Continuing its track record of spending poorly, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) spent Rs4,156.49 crore — just 32.08% — of the Rs12,957.83-crore allocated for the financial year 2016-17.
Of the civic body’s 10 major departments, roads spent the least. Till March 30, only Rs322.62 crore — 11.17% of the Rs2,886 crore allotted — was spent by the scam-hit department, even as motorists struggled to commute on the city’s shoddy roads.
Senior civic officials said the expenditure was lower last year as payments worth Rs908 crore were withheld to contractors allegedly involved in the scam.
For 2017-18, the BMC has allocated only Rs1094.82 crore for construction and maintenance of roads.
Even the bridges department spent only Rs89.64 crore — 20.50% of the 437.19 crore allocated in 2016-17. Though the waste-management system in the city requires a boost, the solid waste management (SWM) spent Rs69.68 — 29% of the Rs237.37 crore allocated to the department.
Last week, BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta presented a more ‘realistic’ 2017-18 budget, which was slashed by Rs11,911 crore from the Rs37,000 crore-budget presented last year. However, going by current trends, the BMC’s capital expenditure estimates of Rs8,127 crores for 2017-18 is unrealistically high.
“If they have spent only Rs4,156 crore last year, then on what basis have they set a goal of spending Rs8,127 crore this year? Till now, the BMC has only been showcasing inflated numbers to give Mumbaiites a ‘feel-good’ factor. The departments fail to spend the money each year. I do not think the situation will change this year,” said Asif Zakaria, Congress corporator.
Capital expenditure is the money spent to create infrastructure in the city.
Even as Mumbai’s infrastructure is crumbling, BMC’s track record with regard to the utilisation of the budget has been poor. As HT reported earlier, in the past 10 years, BMC allocated Rs2.19 lakh crore for the city. However, only 18.33% — Rs40,267.26 crore — was actually spent on infrastructure creation.
Till March 30, the BMC hardly spent money allocated to big-ticket projects such as the coastal road (0.4%), the Mumbai sewage disposal project (6.90%) and the Goregaon-Mulund Link Road (1.22%) in 2016-17.
In the 2017-18 budget, the civic body has allocated Rs1,000 crores for the coastal project, Rs444 crore for the sewage disposal project and Rs130 crorefor the Goregaon-Mulund Link Road.
The storm water drains, hydraulic and sewage departments, however, spent more than 45% of the budget allocated last year.
Officials say the revised estimates for the year 2016-17 are more realistic when compared to the actual expenditure. The BMC usually revises its budget estimation by October or November.
Mehta suspends official over illegal construction nods
Civic chief Ajoy Mehta on Monday suspended an executive engineer, who was serving as the assistant commissioner of N ward (Ghatkopar) till last month, for allegedly permitting illegal constructions in the ward, withholding information on the length and breadth of the ward’s roads and permitting ‘mindless’ repairs and redevelopment.
He asked the inquiry department to probe the case and ascertain criminal involvement, said civic officials, who did not wish to be identified.
Dwivedi, however, denied the allegations against him. “I have not committed any mistakes and neither have I received suspension orders. That is completely false. If anyone submitted false papers regarding repairs, redevelopment or new constructions in N ward, officials can revoke the permissions they granted for the repairs to be carried out,” he said.
Officials alleged that Dwivedi purposely passed on incomplete information about the ward’s roads to the civic chief. “Dwivedi had earlier received two warnings during the review meetings held by the commissioner,” said a civic official.
After the 2015 hotel Kinara tragedy, in which eight people were killed, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) started drives to demolish illegal constructions and encroachments in Mumbai.