Development of roads in Mumbai is likely to get the biggest boost in the annual civic budget for 2015-16. A major chunk of the funds for the upcoming year – around Rs 3,000 crore – is likely to be allocated for construction and maintenance of roads, and regulation of traffic in the city.
This, despite the fact that the roads department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has spent only about 9% of the budget provided for it in the 2014-15 budget.
Implementation of the master plan, which has outlined a phase-wise resurfacing of roads and preparation of a mobility plan to decongest traffic, will be the focus of the budget for roads.
A token provision of about Rs 200 crore to Rs 300 crore is likely to be made for construction of coastal road and the Goregaon-Mulund Link Road.
The trend of keeping aside hefty funds for roads and traffic operations started last year, when the budget put forth a hike of 44%.
The allocation in 2014-15 was Rs 3,138 crore, compared to Rs 2,173 crore set aside in the previous fiscal.
Other services that are likely to get the next big share of allocations are water supply and solid waste management.
Activists and experts said lack of initiative by the administration to push for speedier work meant the large budgets did not translate into any improvement of services for citizens.
For instance, road relaying works starts every year post-February — just four months before the rains — against the ideal practice of starting them in October, when the dry season begins.
“This shows how civil contractors continue to dominate the affairs of the BMC. The budget-making and planning exercise remains contractor-driven, thereby leading to skewed development of the city,” said Rais Shaikh, Samajwadi Party group leader in the BMC.
Some claimed the civic body was ignoring its obligatory duties in the sectors of health and education in a bid to divert more funds towards infrastructure projects.
“Core social sector subjects such as education, health and the gender budget continue to take a backseat in the budget statements,” said Shaikh.
The civic body has been unable to spend the money allotted for critical city projects. Till December, the civic body had spent 24% on the city. The BMC’s capital expenditure, the actual money that it spends on new projects, is only Rs8,113 crore, of the total budget outlay of Rs 31,178 crore. Even last year, when the budget was announced, the civic body had been able to spend only 23% of its total budget in 10 months.