BMC spent ₹480 cr tackling Covid-19
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has spent a total of ₹480 crore on tackling Covid-19, since the first case was reported in the city on March 11 till June 1. Major expenditure was towards procuring medical equipment, augmenting health infrastructure and food distribution. Till April 2020, the civic body had spent around ₹100 crore.
Additional municipal commissioner P Velrasu said, “We have spent nearly ₹480 crore as of now. In the past few days, the expenditure has shot up. This is also because we are not getting donations like earlier now. A majority of the expenditure is towards procuring medical equipment and upgrading health infrastructure.”
The exact bifurcation of the expenditure has not yet been released. According to BMC officials, in terms of medical equipment, the expenditure has been towards purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, N-95 masks, three-ply masks, gloves, face shields, hydroxychloroquine, thermometers, body-bags, protective eye-wear, sanitisers, etc. In the past one month, BMC has spent on various initiatives, from enhancing healthcare in the form of jumbo bed facilities, setting up new Covid-19 Care Centres to expenditure towards hotel bills for accommodation of frontline staff, along with recruitment of new staff on contract basis. The civic body claims its expenditure on community kitchens for migrant labourers has gone down as many have gone back to their hometowns.
BMC has been utilising money from its contingency fund. In the 2020-21 budget, BMC had allocated ₹850 crore towards its contingency fund – a reserve of money set aside to cover possible unforeseen future expenses. However, if the expenditure keeps increasing in the coming days, BMC claims it will have to work on managing the finances by reworking the budget for 2020-2021. “We are currently spending from our contingency fund of ₹850 crore, and have not reworked the budget to make a special provision for coronavirus. However, in the coming one month, we may have to work it out. There is no estimation currently on the expenditure in the coming days.”
According to BMC officials, a majority of their donations are in the form of corporate social responsibility (CSR) or organisations. Although the civic body is yet to calculate the exact quantum of donations in cash, as per its estimates, its expenditure can surge up to ₹130 crore a month in the coming months, if the donations start drying up.
BMC, which is India’s richest civic body, had presented a budget of ₹33,441.02 crore in 2020-2021. The civic body had, in the budget, allocated a special fund of ₹2 crore to upgrade the medical facilities at Kasturba Hospital, which was the only hospital treating Covid-19 patients then.
Ravi Raja, Congress corporator and leader of Opposition in BMC, said, “The administration may have spent around ₹480 crore, but we are not given any details about the expenditure. They have not even informed or consulted the standing committee of the BMC or the general body before making or ordering purchases. The administration should give proper information about the expenditure to the elected representatives and citizens.”