There’s good reason why you should exercise your right and vote in the civic polls, likely to be held in early February.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has spent Rs21,841.97 crore of taxpayers’ money in the past five years. The aim: To give you smooth roads, good-quality water and a garbage-free city that does not flood in the monsoon.
The amount the BMC has spent on roads, storm water drains, water supply, solid waste management, health and education in Mumbai is more than the combined budgets of five Indian states and one Union Territory (Goa, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Sikkim and Chandigarh) in 2011-12.
So has your life improved? You should vote because what the BMC does has such an impact on your life.
Water supply remains erratic in many areas, while the BMC’s own report showed that Mumbai was being supplied contaminated water, after 36 samples from across the city were found unfit for consumption in May. This, after spending more than Rs7,800 crore on water supply over five years.
The construction and maintenance of roads have cost taxpayers more than Rs4,000 crore in five years, but in July, the BMC counted 6,000 potholes on its 1,900-km network of city roads. After public uproar, the BMC spent another Rs57 crore filling potholes.
Club this amount with salaries paid to employees from these six departments and the money spent by one of the richest civic bodies in India comes to Rs50,000 crore in the past five years.
Questions are being raised about the BMC-contractor nexus, which, according to the HT-Cfore survey published in the November 23 edition, is responsible for shoddy civic work.
“There is scope for improving the functioning of the BMC. After spending such an amount, the quality of work needs to improve,” said V Ranganathan, former municipal commissioner and former state chief secretary. The Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party combine, which rules the BMC, insists that the civic body is functioning well and that the expenditure is justified.
“In the last five years, we have taken up big-ticket crucial projects that involve heavy expenditure so the figures might seem exaggerated,” said Rahul Shewale, senior Sena leader and chairman of the civic standing committee.