The Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC) is in the process of preparing the budget for 2016-17, but it has shown poor record in utilising funds allocated in the 2015-16 budget.
Official records reveal that the MC spent only 55% of the total funds allocated to it under the plan head for 201516 till December 31. According to the budget report prepared till December 31, of the Rs 348 crore plan head budget, the MC was able to spend only Rs 190 crore. The plan head includes expenditure that is meant to create new infrastructure and capital assets.
The civic body has not even spent a single penny out of the Rs 17 crore allocated for the fire and emergency services. Even on primary education, the MC has spent just 5% of the total budget allocated, and just 3% on dispensaries.
Of the Rs 20 crore allocated under the planned budget to primary education, the MC has just spent Rs 1 crore. Similarly, Rs 23 crore was allocated to the primary health sector, but the MC managed to utilise only Rs 1.31 crore. Sources say the authorities have shown reluctance in utilising funds even as buildings of most schools and dispensaries need renovation. Officials have not even formulated proposals for maintenance and upkeep of these buildings.
The MC has also not shown interest in improving the firefighting equipment in the city as the entire amount of Rs 17 crore lay unspent till December
31. The MC’s fire and emergency wing has been struggling with staff shortage and lack of hi-tech equipment. The department has 362 vacancies and is without a permanent chief fire officer for over 10 years. It is short of 30 leading firemen and all seven fire stations in the city need an overhaul. Even as the UT administration sanctioned 262 posts against 500 vacant posts, the MC is yet to start the recruitment process.
MC joint commissioner Varinder Chaudhary, however, said the figures were not correct. “We have spent money on repairs of fire-fighting vehicles and renovation of all fire stations is also on. We are holding a meeting in this regard on Wednesday,” he said.
Chairperson of the MC’s primary school committee Sheela Devi admitted that the condition of dispensaries and schools have deteriorated. “We are helpless as we do have any powers. Moreover, officials have not taken initiatives to improve the state schools in the past four years,” she said.
BJP councillor Satinder Singh said: “Action should be taken against officials who have failed to utilise the allocated funds for development.”
Former Mayor Poonam Sharma said: “Though the administration has handed over the departments to the MC, but the power has not been devolved. We were not given staff and we don’t even have power to recruit staff. For fire services, it is the duty of the officer concerned to present the agenda before the fire sub-committee. I don’t know why it has not been done.”
When contacted, MC chief accounts officer Uma Shankar said: “In most cases, officials concerned don’t take interest and in some cases drawings are not cleared by the UT administration, so the projects get delayed.”