With its eye on the civic elections scheduled for early 2012, the Brihamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has set aside Rs 4,562 crore, nearly 22% of its budget, to provide services to the urban poor, who are the vote banks of political parties.
The budgetary allocation aims to extend services to gaothans, koliwadas and tribal hamlets, setting up aadhar kendras [support centres] to generate employment for the financially weak and improving living conditions in slums.
The BMC has allocated Rs 349 crore towards upgrading and maintaining slums, while Rs275 crore have been set aside for improvement and maintenance of chawls.
The budget also emphasises on providing better health facilities in civic hospitals.
Senior civic officials believe these allocations were made because there are no other fancy plans to woo voters. Municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar said how these allocations affect the polls was not his concern.
Standing committee chairman and Sena corporator Rahul Shewale said: “The common man has always been the focus of the BMC’s budget. We are not making these budgetary provisions just because the elections are approaching.”
The civic administration has set aside Rs3 crore for repairing and retrofitting of the toilets in slums and Rs22 crore to construct 35,000 toilet blocks under the slum sanitation programme. A sum of Rs15 crore has been allotted to the gender budget. This includes funding self-employment schemes for deserving women, medical assistance and self-employment schemes for the disabled and various activities included in the Aadhar project.
The BMC has also set aside Rs6.6 crore for citizens from socially and economically backward classes. The BMC has also given an exhibition centre to self-help groups in a municipal market in Khotachiwadi, Girgaum. “This has been done to boost the self-help movement in the city,” Shewale said.