Amid fund crunch, BBMP eyes big Budget allocations

Updated on Mar 04, 2022 12:24 AM IST

The Karnataka Budget in 2021-22 provided a total grant of ₹7,795 crore for the “comprehensive development” of Bengaluru.

BBMP has also asked for <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>1,170 crores for flood relief but the official added, “This is unlikely to be fulfilled”. (Agencies)
BBMP has also asked for 1,170 crores for flood relief but the official added, “This is unlikely to be fulfilled”. (Agencies)
BySharan Poovanna, Bengaluru

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is expecting some big allocations in the Karnataka Budget, scheduled for March 4, as it faces severe infrastructure lapses and other civic challenges, a senior government official said on Thursday.

“We had asked for funds for several issues. The major ones are stormwater drains, all those infra projects that are 80-90% done and the remaining 10-20% is stalled or delayed,” said the official, requesting not to be named.

The BBMP has also asked for 1,170 crores for flood relief but the official cited above added, “This is unlikely to be fulfilled”.

The Karnataka Budget in 2021-22 provided a total grant of 7,795 crore for the “comprehensive development” of Bengaluru.

Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai and his predecessor BS Yediyurappa have worked on tight budgets due to financial constraints owing to the fledgling economy in India, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns.

The GSDP (gross state domestic product) also contracted by -2.6% last year, registering the first decline in years. Yediyurappa had presented a revenue deficit budget in 2021-22, the first in many decades, as shortfalls in earnings were pegged at 15,133.60 crore.

On account of the higher borrowings to make up for revenue shortfalls, the total debt of the state was up nearly 32% between 2019-20 when it stood at 2.34 lakh crore, which raised to 3.07 lakh crore by 2020-21, according to a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report in December last year.

During the same period, loans and advances from the centre to the state also saw a sharp rise from 13,908 crore to 26,617 crore in the same period.

“Mr Basavaraj Bommai is walking on a tightrope, and I am sure that he will fall, but this time unfortunately he will bring the whole state down with him. The problem with the BJP government in Karnataka is that it is scared of its counterpart at the national level. Here the primary motive of the CM is to save the position and not the interests of people. We have Mr Basavaraj Bommai, who is silent on various injustices to Karnataka related to tax devolution, grants-in-aid, GST compensation and other budgetary aspects,” Siddaramaiah, the Congress Leader of the Opposition in Karnataka told HT on Thursday. Siddaramaiah has presented 13 budgets in this career.

With just one year to go before assembly elections and at least two other polls – Zilla, taluka and BBMP elections – before it, Bommai is challenged with accommodating aspirations across the board while trying to remain in power despite the growing challenge to his position from within his party.

“He will have pressure to impress his MLAs as his position is still not sealed. This means there will be step-motherly treatment towards opposition MLAs in allocating the budget. It is doubtful if he can impress people as he is bound by fiscal constraints because of the failure of the government. The central government, which has failed to devolve adequate grants, has now allowed States to borrow interest-free 50-year tenure loans. CM will use the maximum and burden the subsequent governments,” Siddaramaiah added.

“The chief minister will give a good budget. All ministers and others have spoken (to CM). A pro-people budget, especially one which keeps the poor at the centre and ensure there is something for each household,” R Ashok, Karnataka’s minister for Revenue said on Thursday.

“It is Bommai’s first budget and it will bring some sweetness and peave to the state’s population,” he added.

Urban experts lament the fact that Bengaluru’s administration is plagued with the problem of too many authorities, which are created for specific requirements but end up becoming another ‘empire’ in the process with little or no accountability.

For instance, the state government created the Bengaluru Solid Waste Management Limited (BSWML) as a government-owned company to carry out Solid Waste Management on behalf of the BBMP, which was the primary body dealing with garbage clearance in the city.

Likewise, there is Bengaluru Development Authority, Bengaluru Metropolitan Land Transport Authority (BMLTA), Bengaluru metropolitan region development authority (BMRDA) and several others whose functions, to be fair, are not clear to most people living in the capital city.

“The approach for the state has been to create more and more parastatals. Bengaluru smart city is one with a special purpose vehicle and moves in an independent direction. Solid Waste Management Authority is another. The tendency to say that the solution for the city lies in creating more of these authorities and each of them becoming one more silo and an empire by itself is part of the problem,” V Ravichandar, urban expert and chairman and managing director of Feedback Consulting told HT.

Bommai, in the legislative council, said that over 20,000 crore were spent only on road-related works within Bengaluru over the last five years.

“The challenge in our cities is that even if we create the capital we don’t provide for the Operations and Maintenance (O&M). So that capital as such that gets created as such gets impacted because the repair and maintenance are not good,” Ravichandar added.

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