Rs 630 crore spent on Covid-19, Mumbai civic corporation may have to rework budget
BMC said it has not decided how to raise more money if the contingency fund amount runs out to meet Covid-19 expenses. It informed that a decision will be taken in the coming days, if such a need arises.Updated: Jul 07, 2020 11:34 IST
After spending more than Rs 630 crore on its fight against the Covid-19 outbreak, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) might have to rework on its 2020-21 budgetary allocations to meet any more expenses which are likely to incur while combating the virus spread. The civic body may, thus divert funds that were allocated for certain projects in the budget to meet Covid-related expenses.
Currently, the country’s richest civic body is utilising money from the ₹850-crore contingency fund created for ‘unexpected expenditure’.
“As of now, we have around Rs 220 crore of contingency funds left. A majority of the money was utilised for the creation of health facilities. If the need arises, we will start doing the internal exercise soon,” additional municipal commissioner P Velrasu said.
However, BMC said it has not decided how to raise more money if the contingency fund amount runs out to meet Covid-19 expenses. It informed that a decision will be taken in the coming days, if such a need arises.
As per the civic body, in the past two months, the expenditure shot up drastically owing to the rising cases. Till April, the BMC spent around ₹100 crore, which surged to around Rs 480 crore by the first week of June. By the first week of July, it further surged to a total of Rs 630.
Apart from the health infrastructure, the BMC spent on hotel bills for accommodation of frontline staff, recruitment of new staff on contract basis, food distribution, procuring medical equipment such as personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, N95 masks, 3-ply masks, gloves, face shields, hydroxychloroquine, thermometers, body-bags, protective eye-wear, sanitisers etc. Some of these items were also received as donations in the form of corporate social responsibility (CSR) or from organisations. However, the exact quantum of the donated items is not yet known.
Meanwhile, Congress corporator and leader of Opposition in the BMC, Ravi Raja, said, “We cannot comment on how the BMC can raise money for future Covid-19 expenses, considering it has not informed the elected representatives about the expenditures made yet. I have personally sought details from the officials, but they are not sharing it. We expect transparency over the expenses, and the information pertaining to it should be made available to elected representatives.”
The BMC presented a budget of Rs 33,441.02 crore in February, of which ₹2 crore was allocated to upgrade the medical facilities at Kasturba Hospital. At the time, there was no Covid-19 outbreak in the city, and the capital expenditure was pegged at Rs 14,637 crore for financial year 2020-2021.
A major allocation (Rs 1,600 crore) was made for the roads department, followed by the bridges department (Rs 799 crore). The civic body had to dip into its reserved funds of Rs 79,829 crore by withdrawing from it for infrastructure projects and has decided to draw out Rs 4,380 crore from it this year.
The other major allocations were made for development plan 2034 (₹3,248 crore), health (₹4,260 crore) and education (₹2,944 crore). For the coastal road project, an allocation of around ₹2,000 crore was made, while for the proposed Goregaon-Mulund Link Road, the civic body reserved ₹300 crore. The budget made allocations worth ₹506 crore for the proposed Gargai Dam in Palghar district.
In a first, the civic body also opened a tourism department and allocated funds worth ₹183 crore.