Amid strong protest by the opposition councilors, the ruling Congress with the help of nominated councilors approved the 2013-14 budget of Rs. 637 crore of the Chandigarh municipal corporation under plan and non-plan head on Thursday.
The MC has not proposed any new project for the city, but decided to complete the pending projects first. The budget includes Rs. 261 crore allocated under plan head and Rs. 376 under non-plan head for the next fiscal.
The BJP-SAD councilors, who were demanding a special meeting for approving the budget, alleged that it was very strange that the most important budget for the development of city was approved in just four hours without proper discussion.
BJP councilor Arun Sood said we want to ask the mayor on what grounds the budget had been slashed by almost 50% this year. In the 2012-13 financial year, the plan head component of the budget was Rs. 504 crore.
“The MC has failed to provide basic amenities to city residents, be it water supply, sanitation, sewerage, parks or roads. In the budget of 2012-13, an estimate of Rs. 849 crore was passed, but not more than Rs. 150 crore was actually spent on basic amenities.”
Another member Devash Moudgil said the budget estimates clearly showed decrease in the MC income. He alleged that new mayor Subhash Chawla had failed to get adequate grants-in-aid from the UT administration.
“The budget estimates indicate that Rs. 130 crore will be spent by tapping the fixed deposits of the civic body,” Moudgil added.
City mayor Subhash Chawla said, “It is a realistic budget and we have mainly focused on sanitation, water shortage, greenery and maintenance of roads. We will be completing our pending projects first.”
A budget provision of Rs. 16 crore has been proposed for water supply, compared with Rs. 67 crore last year. A budget of Rs. 15 crore has been proposed for primary education, as against Rs. 22 crore last year. Only Rs. 20 lakh have been set aside for firefighting, compared with Rs. 31 lakh during 2010-11.
It has been lerant that the civic body spent nothing to on fire safety in the city even though a budget of Rs. 1 crore was granted by the UT administration earlier.
For the development of roads, parking lots and other infrastructural facilities, a provision of Rs. 60 crore has been proposed.
The next fiscal's proposals also make no provision for any significant amenities for the destitute, afforestation or shelters for stray animals.
Further, the reduction in welfare expenses falling under heads such as public health, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Rural Mission (JNNURM) and bridges and roads clearly point towards misplaced priorities of the MC.
A sum of only Rs. 1.5 crore has been proposed for providing infrastructure facilities in villages falling under the MC. Similarly, no provision has been made for the upgrade of water supply under JNNURM, as compared to Rs. 2.54 crore in 2011-12.
On the other hand, Rs. 40 lakh have been earmarked under the proposal for ensuring infrastructure facilities in municipal commissioner's office, as against Rs. 4 lakh in 2011-12.