Close on the heels of elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, eyeing a fourth consecutive term in the civic body, has been facing a lot of uncomfortable questions about the BMC’s functioning. In an interview with HT, Sena corporator and chairman of the standing committee Rahul Shewale says that the BMC is unfairly held responsible for all the problems facing the city and that the time has come for the BMC to be made the single, central body of all planning and execution in the city.
Though the BMC has spent Rs 21, 841.97 crore over the last five years, on six key functions, including roads and water supply, the situation in the city leaves much to be desired. Is it wrong to say that taxpayers’ money has been wasted?
We have taken up major projects involving heavy expenditure, in the past five years. We have completed 75% of the work on Brimstowad, initiated work on four major underground tunnels, to improve the water supply network. We have constructed 128-km of cement-concrete roads, and 456-km of asphalt roads in the city. We have also started work on replacing the oldest pipelines in the city.
In a recent survey conducted by HT, 70% respondents said they were not happy with the BMC’s functioning over the last five years. Why do you think citizens are dissatisfied?
We haven’t been able to project to the people work we have done. Also, most people don’t realise that our services fall short because of the ever-growing migration into the city. The state should help us provide services to migrants.
More than Rs10,000 crore was spent on water supply and sewage works. Despite that, supply is erratic, and Mumbaiites often get contaminated water in their homes. Why has the situation not improved?
This is not true. We have increased the city’s water supply from 2,900 MLD (million litres daily) to 3,350 MLD. We will add another 100 MLD in a few days. By 2012-end, we will add 455 MLD from the Middle Vaitarna dam. We are also drawing up a programme to tackle leakages and contamination.
This monsoon, your alliance faced flak for the state of roads. There were also reports of how, despite shoddy work, the same set of contractors bagged contracts. Does this point to a contractor-politician-official nexus?
In the recent roads contract, we tried our best to include reputed firms, but they didn’t respond. The state needs to make stricter laws so we can take criminal actions against errant contractors.