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In its budget today, Mumbai civic body may loosen purse strings for major infra projects

Civic chief Ajoy Mehta may not introduce new taxes; allocation to roads, drains likely to remain consistent

mumbai Updated: Feb 02, 2018 00:43 IST
Mumbai,BMC,budget

Big-ticket infrastructure projects such as the Coastal Road and a 300-acre park at Cuffe Parade are likely to account for the highest allocation in the civic budget 2018-19 being presented by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner today, said officials familiar with the development.

While funds for the Development Plan (DP) 2034, fire brigade and other departments, including roads, are likely to increase, the outlay for solid waste management may remain constant. The budget may stress on innovations in civic governance, officials said.

The good news for Mumbaiites is that civic chief Ajoy Mehta is unlikely to introduce new taxes or a major hike in the existing ones. Realistic allocation, transparency and restructuring reforms seem to be the key themes of the budget. On the lines of last year’s practice, the DP is said to receive more funds, with a focus on building amenities. The DP is expected to be approved by state government by March.

With octroi, its major source of revenue, abolished in the middle of last year after the GST rollout, the BMC may chart some stern steps to keep budget estimates to realistic levels. Officials said that the budget would be close to Rs25,000 crore.

In a first, the BMC may fund innovative projects — such as a 39-km cycle track, pedestrian-friendly Kala Ghoda and selfie points at Fort — undertaken by various departments.

The civic body is expected to maintain last year’s budget allocation for development works, including road repairs, desilting and waste management. Officials estimated Rs1,100 crore for the roads and traffic department this financial year.

The garden department, which will build the controversial 300-acre park in Cuffe Parade, will get a major chunk of funds. The park will be built through reclamation and includes a garden, playground and area for children.

In addition, the budget is likely to set aside money for Goregaon-Mulund Link roads, a waste-to-energy plant at Deonar, Gargai-Pinjal and Damanganga projects to augment water supply and sewage treatment plants.

Some controversial suggestions such as property tax for slums, an increase in medical charges for non-Mumbai patients may find a mention in the budget. Mehta will present the budget to the standing committee, which controls BMC’s exchequer.

Spurred by Kamala Mills tragedy, BMC to allocate more funds to fire dept

In the aftermath of the Kamala Mills fire outbreak which claimed 14 lives in December last year, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is likely to increase budgetary provisions to the Mumbai fire brigade for the upcoming 2018-19 budget.

The civic body is expected to make budgetary allocations for capacity building and training of fire department staff, as well as to ensure fire safety compliances across 2.98 lakh establishments in the city.

“The BMC has proposed to induct firefighting robots in the department, but it is unlikely that there will a budgetary allocation for the procurement of new technology. At the moment, we are focusing on human resource and capacity building,” said a fire brigade official.

After the Kamala Mills incident, the civic body set up 34 fire cells across fire stations in the city and appointed one compliance official to each cell. The compliance officials, who report to designated officials at their respective wards, are responsible for fire safety compliance inspections in their area.

Following a recent meeting of the 34 officials, the BMC decided to make the cells permanent with two nodal officials assigned to each cell. As a result, the civic body will incur a significant amount of cost to increase the staff and set up new office spaces.

“Over the last one year, the fire brigade procured most of the equipments necessary to upgrade the technology. So, this year there will be lesser focus on that,” added the official.

The fire brigade procured several new technologies in 2017, including 11 new water tankers with a capacity of 14,000 litres of water, Hazmat Vehicle in case of chemical or nuclear accidents, and a new 81-metre hydraulic ladder.

First Published: Feb 02, 2018 00:43 IST