With just three months left for the election code of conduct become effective, the ruling Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine in the civic body is in a hurry to clear projects worth crores of rupees.
According to the code, a corporator or the state cannot pass a proposal, which could influence voters, 45 days before elections.
In the next few weeks, the civic standing committee plans to clear work contracts worth over Rs1,000 crore. On Thursday, the committee will take up proposals worth Rs 650 crore, including the controversial road-rebuilding proposal of Rs 577 crore.
The Rs 50 crore cost escalation proposal for two pumping stations at Worli and the Rs 50 crore proposal to appoint a foreign third party auditor to oversee construction of roads will also be discussed in the meeting. The Rs 375 crore-proposal to improve minor roads is slated to come up for approval in October.
Last week, the committee cleared proposals worth Rs 360 crore. Projects worth over Rs 3,000 crore are expected to come up for approval in the next two months. Sources said the major roads proposal will be cleared without discussion and just on the basis of majority of the ruling party because the BJP has asked its four standing committee members to be present at the meeting.
The Congress has questioned why the Sena-BJP is in a hurry to clear the contracts. “They should explain to the people why they are doing this,” said Congress corporator Sameer Desai. Corporators, who did not wish to be named, said the proposals are important for Sena- BJP as civic contractors are a major source of election funds.
Sena member and standing committee chairman, Rahul Shewale, however, refuted the allegations. “It is just that all the important projects have come up for approval at the same time. Also, the administration wants to spend the budget for capital works before the election code of conduct,” said Shewale.
A proposal to change the property tax recovery system in the city, however, may be ignored as the mandate to decide on a proposal ends on Thursday. “The committee will reject it as no party wants to risk its voter base by increasing tax,” said a corporator, on condition of anonymity.