Ahead of civic polls, corporators prioritise lane concretisation work
Despite the PMC municipal commissioner’s instructions to stop using funds on non-proprietary works, a lot of money is being spent on cement concretization in narrow lanes on the background of the upcoming civic polls.
On the background of the Covid-19 pandemic, PMC chief Vikram Kumar has instructed all departments to prioritise essential works like water, drainage, health and road repair. Despite that, ward offices have floated tenders of concretisation in by lanes to spend the budget as well as to show development work in light of the upcoming civic polls.
As per road department statistics, there are around ₹100 crore worth tenders floated to concrete the lanes in different ward offices. The ward office has the power to float tender up to ₹25 lakh at the ward level. There is no need to take permission from the main road department.
Dr Kunal Khemnar, additional municipal commissioner said, “We will check tenders and allow permission to cement concertise work for the essential ones. Earlier, the PMC commissioner was given instruction to spend only 40 per cent of budget allocation on priority work. Now, they have increased the cap up to 60 per cent. But that doesn’t mean it is wise to spend the maximum ward level budget on lane concretization.”
Every year, the PMC allots around ₹500 crore for roadwork. It includes road repairing and the construction of new roads. The share of the budget for road repair and maintenance is around ₹60 crore. The other funds are used for making bituminous and cement concretization (CC) of roads.
PMC makes its budgetary provision based on visual inspection before drafting the annual budget. However, corporators propose cement concrete road work in the wards to utilize the ward development funds. The amount goes to around ₹100 crore. On the eve of civic polls, the amount increases and reaches ₹150 crore at ward level.
On the other hand, the civic body’s main road department spends ₹200 crore every year on cement concrete road construction. It is regular work and has nothing to do with the election period.
Vivek Velankar, civic activist said, “Local corporators are wasting money on concretization of lanes. Actually, the lanes are in good condition. On the other side, due to the lack of stormwater drain, there are chances of a flood-like situation in lanes. However, the corporators are in a hurry to spend the allocated budget money.”
“It is one of the ways of corruption to spend money on non-priority works as most contractors have a direct connection with the corporators. Another thing, the PMC commissioner has not mentioned a list of priority works in detail. Therefore, ward offices are taking benefit of doubts and float tenders,” he added.
In the city, there is a 2,064 km long road network. Of that, around 1,800 are totally developed. The width of roads varies from 7.5 meters to 60 meters. A maximum of 18-meter-wide roads has been developed in the city. The bituminous roads have a maximum share as compared to cement concrete roads. There is 400 km of cement concretised roads. The share of main roads is 200 km, and the remaining are secondary roads. There are 50 major roads in the city with a maximum of 60 meters in width.