The civic body is in a mess | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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The civic body is in a mess

In the first seven months of 2009, the civic body exhausted its entire year's budget. Corporators in the standing committee went on an approval spree, sanctioning Rs 535 crore in addition to the budgeted projects.

mumbai Updated: Dec 02, 2011 01:24 IST
Kunal Purohit

In the first seven months of 2009, the civic body exhausted its entire year's budget. Corporators in the standing committee went on an approval spree, sanctioning Rs 535 crore in addition to the budgeted projects.

Its funds over, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), on the verge of financial deficit, wrote to the state asking for approval to raise an internal loan, which was refused.

Expenditure in excess of its income, doling out extra funds to contractors without floating tenders for works not in the contract, corporators approving projects on the eve of elections - these are the real reasons behind the civic body's delicate financial health.

These are the reasons why your city is in a mess and you have to suffer poor civic amenities.

In 2010, it came to light that the BMC has not had a single audit of its accounts conducted since 2007.

Unnecessary expenditure on projects means there is no money left for the much-needed projects. The BMC has not built any new roads in the city since 2008 thanks to the corporators' spending spree in 2009.

The BMC has also stayed all major beautification projects due to the same reason.

To make matters worse, there are no proper checks on the expenditure -what is being done with the money.

"Despite such enormous escalation in expenditure in the last few years, the quality improvement is negligible. So what's the point of spending so much? As is widely known, when you keep increasing unchecked expenditure, three sections benefit - contractors, corporators and BMC officials," said Prakash Sanglikar, retired deputy municipal commissioner.

It gets worse. During the mad spending rush, on the eve of the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in 2009, the standing committee, aided by BMC officials, approved an additional payment of Rs 700 crore to road contractors, who made roads not specified in their contracts, without floating tenders.

Defending what was done, standing committee chairman and Sena leader Rahul Shewale said: "As the code of conduct was in place for six months in that year, we could not approve new tenders. So all political parties, including the Congress-NCP, came together to approve the expenditure. The BMC is faring better now financially."

Not surprising, then, that the chief accountant (finance), in a confidential note circulated in 2009, predicted a bleak future for civic finances.

Raju Bhise from NGO YUVA, which has studied the functioning of the BMC and compared it to other civic bodies, said: "That there has been no audit for all these years means there is no accountability and transparency. We need to find out where has all this money has gone and on whose interests it was spent."