The attachment politicians have towards power and perks is well-publicised. However, corporators in Mumbai seem to have taken this attachment to a new low, with most of them refusing to part ways with the laptops that the BMC gave them in 2009. The civic body has now issued notices to all 227 corporators asking them to turn in their machines.
The laptops, costing Rs 52,000 apiece, were handed out free of cost, on a returnable basis. The BMC spent over Rs1.4 crore to buy 280 laptops, of which, 231 were given to corporators (227 elected and 5 nominated). The rest were given to senior officials.
The idea behind the project was to give the corporators electronic access to the various proposals coming up for discussion, thereby cutting back stationary cost and waste of paper. Corporators claim that returning the machines does not make sense as their value has depreciated and they cannot be given to new corporators.
"Like every other electronic article, the value of the laptop would have depreciated. In fact, an electronic device depreciates @ 50% per annum and we have completed three years now. So it would be unfair to take the laptops back," insisted Manmohan Chonkar, Shiv Sena's corporator from Bandra.
"How much has BMC spent on these laptops? It wasn't more than Rs 1.2 crore. The administration can adjust this amount against our honorarium or corporator fund," said another corporator from the western suburbs, on the condition of anonymity. Corporators get Rs10,000 a month as honorarium.
After the code of conduct was imposed on January 3, all corporators had to deposit official vehicle or cell phones. However, not all corporators are against returning the laptop. "Laptop is a BMC property and I will return it on Monday," said Congress corporator Sameer Desai.