Rs 121-cr budget passed amid war of words between mayor, BJP councillors

  • Navrajdeep Singh, Hindustan Times, Bathinda
  • Updated: Mar 18, 2016 20:29 IST
Senior deputy mayor Tarsem Goyal arguing with mayor Balwant Rai Nath during the house meeting at the municipal corporation office at Bathinda on Friday. (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)

The municipal corporation (MC) passed the Rs121-crore budget for 2016-2017 on Friday amid a war of words between the mayor and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillors.

The budget was passed without a detailed discussion on the 11-page document.

However, mayor Balwant Rai Nath, who represents the Shiromani Akali Dal, failed to give satisfactory answers to queries put forth by senior deputy mayor Tarsem Goyal regarding income- generating measures.

The lack of homework on the budge by representatives of the people was evident from the fact that many of the councilors, especially women, were caught unawares about the proceedings of the budget meeting.

Not a single councillor from the Congress raised any question. Leader of the Congress in the House Jagroop Singh Gill was conspicuous by his absence.

The mayor, who was in a hurry to attend a private function, stood up and asked the councilors, most of whom were enjoying refreshment, “Should we pass the budget now as it has things which we discuss every year.”

The senior deputy mayor said there must be a detailed discussion as the budget for development has been reduced to 16% from 61% last year.

“Don’t ask me tough questions as I know that you (senior deputy mayor) are trying to corner me. I know the exact intentions behind your question,” replied the mayor, who was seen baffled over his subordinate’s query.

The mayor almost insulted another BJP councilor Sanjay Bishwas, who raised questions over the lack of development in his ward.

“Now you (Sanjay) tell me how to run the corporation. I am the mayor and know my work well. Moreover, most development works are being carried out in your ward over the past one year and still you are complaining,” the mayor said.

Visibly upset over his grievances, the mayor said, “As a councillor, you (Sanjay) are not fit to sit on a chair, you should rather sit on the floor to get clicked by photographers.”

No one from the BJP, not even the senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor Gurinderpal Kaur Mangat, came to Sanjay’s defence.

Big chunk to go into Salaries, pensions

The civic body has passed a surplus budget of Rs 121 crore, but its major chunk would go into salaries and pensions of employees.

The corporation will spend Rs 60 crore on salaries and clearing benefits of pensioners during the next year.

However, with addition of Rs 24 crore, which the civic body carried from the ongoing financial year, the expected income for the next year is estimated around Rs 145 crore.

However, the estimated committed and non-committed expenditure target of for the next year is Rs 126 crore.

Indeed, the corporation has specified only Rs 20 crore for development works, which fall in the non-committed category.

The civic body had stipulated Rs 25 crore to be spent on development works last year, but it had managed to spend only Rs 12.8 crore.

Moreover, the corporation is banking on loans of Rs 52 crore and Rs 105 crore from the Punjab infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) and theHousing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) to carry out the main development works, including laying of sewerage and water supply lines.

The mayor said they had concentrated on income-generation resources in the budget so as to improve the fiscal condition of the civic body.

“We are expecting to generate Rs 14.06 crore from property tax against the last year’s collection of Rs7.5 crore.

Efforts would be made to generate more than Rs 8 crore from sewerage and water supply bills, the mayor said.

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