A cash-strapped Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which has decided to cut corners by reducing expenditure on big projects, has budgeted Rs 173 crore for five underground parking lots between Hutatma Chowk and Regal Cinema.
The total project cost is Rs 440 crore.
The Shiv Sena-led BMC declared its budget on Wednesday. The BMC said it plans to reduce expenditure on key projects by roping in private partners.
The parking lots project being executed by a consortium of Venue Infrastructure seems to be an exception. BMC sources say the reason for this is WOHR Parking System Private Limited (India)--a company that is a part of the consortium--is owned by Girish Vyas, son-in-law of senior Sena leader Manohar Joshi.
The Hindustan Times had, in August, reported that the Sena-led standing committee had cleared the project that is connected to a kin of one of their senior leaders.
Sena legislator and Chairman of the Standing Committee Ravindra Waikar refuted allegations that the decision had something to do with their party leader.
“This amount is being spent considering the necessity of a parking facility in the area. There are several health facilities around and lack of parking space becomes a huge problem. One should not link the nod [for the project] with Joshi sir (Manohar Joshi).”
The project involves constructing five underground parking lots between Hutatma Chowk and Regal Cinema. The BMC will not get any returns from the project.
Municipal Commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya in his budget speech on Wednesday in fact announced that Rs 173 crore will be set aside for the project. “This amount will be used to start work on the projects. Considering the availability of funds and financial position we will review the situation,” said Kshatriya.
This means that an additional fund allocation can be made during the financial year with the nod of the standing committee.
Kshatriya justified going ahead with the project despite a cash crunch. “BMC’s financial situation is a matter of concern. However, we did not get any response from private companies when we put out advertisements. So we have decided to do it on our own,” said Kshatriya.