If you thought lack of funds was the reason why Mumbai’s roads never improve or the pile of garbage near your home is rarely picked up, think again.
The country’s richest civic body has managed to spend just 22% of its total budget so far, with key departments spending less than 30% of the funds allocated to them. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) now has a little over three months to fully utilise the Rs 31,179 crore budget for the current financial year, with the next budget expected to be presented in February.
The health department has utilised a mere 4.43% of the Rs 232.75 crore allocated to it for improving services in civic hospitals.
The gardens department, responsible for maintenance and beautification of open spaces in the city, has spent only 7.69% of the Rs 361.09 crore allocated to it this financial year.
And then there’s the department responsible for cleaning roads and effective disposal of waste. The solid waste department has spent only Rs 55.35 crore or 13.14% of the allocated Rs 421 crore.
The funds were clearly available, but major projects such as setting up waste-to-energy plans to process waste on dumping grounds, installing dustbins at public places and better disposal systems have, even if completed, been poorly implemented.
Among the major departments, the roads and traffic wing has spent the most, utilising 36.32% of its budget.
Civic officials claim that the functioning of departments was severely affected by the model code of conduct in place for the Lok Sabha elections in April and assembly elections in October.
“With the sanctioning of major projects not allowed during the code of conduct period, we faced a grave situation, because of which maximum funds are not utilised until now. There are three more months pending for the next fiscal year and we are trying to get as many projects off the ground possible,” said a senior civic official from the accounts and finance department.
Corporators and citizens said there has been no substantial improvement in their wards despite a 27% increase in the budget over the previous year.
Opposition parties have blamed the administration for poor planning. “This is not an unusual story. The BMC has failed to utilise its budget effectively every year. Very little has been spent and the citizens are affected,” said Devendra Amberkar, opposition leader in BMC.