High expenditure, poor results
While the sheer amount that the civic body has spent over the last six years — Rs 21,841.97 crore — is shocking, given the fact that citizens struggle with civic issues daily, what’s even more surprising is the fact that almost 90% of that amount was spent on three functions – water supply and sewerage, maintaining roads, and storm water drains.mumbai Updated: Dec 01, 2011 01:43 IST
While the sheer amount that the civic body has spent over the last six years — Rs 21,841.97 crore — is shocking, given the fact that citizens struggle with civic issues daily, what’s even more surprising is the fact that almost 90% of that amount was spent on three functions – water supply and sewerage, maintaining roads, and storm water drains.
And it is these three areas where the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) faces the maximum flak, from citizens, experts and the government alike. See graphic
Water supply and sewerage tops the list of departments that the civic body has spent the most on, with an expenditure of Rs 10,479 crore. Of this, more than Rs 7,800 crore has been spent on improving water supply. Despite this, the city has been reeling under frequent water cuts, with four this month alone. In addition, the issue of water contamination is raised every year. In May 2011, BMC’s own report showed that the city was being supplied contaminated water, with 36 samples found unfit for human consumption. HT too pointed out through various reports how samples of water from reservoirs – from where drinking water is supplied to the city – were showing high levels of contamination.
The civic body has spent more than Rs 500 crore to plug leakages and prevent contamination, under the controversial Sujal Mumbai Abhiyan, which had promised 24X7 water supply to citizens when launched in 2007.
However, experts and activists are not impressed by the scheme. “We have been studying the BMC’s spending on the scheme and there is no tangible improvement,” said Sitaram Shelar, convenor of Paani Hak Samiti, fighting for fair distribution of water.
Public sentiment also echoes this dissatisfaction with the civic body’s performance in these sectors. The HT-C Fore survey found that 72% respondents felt the BMC had performed the worst in providing clean drinking water and smooth roads.
Similarly, this monsoon, the civic body faced a lot of flak over the pathetic condition of city roads, which had developed several potholes. However, in the past five years, the BMC has spent more than Rs4,400 crore on reconstruction and repair of road, bridges and footpaths in the city.
Juhu-based activist Utsal Karani from Janhit Manch, said that he was shocked by the expenditure. “We can’t see results of this expenditure on city roads. The quality of roads in not up to the mark.”
The third area that the civic body has spent a large chunk is on curbing flooding during the monsoons. A whopping Rs 4,299 crore has been spent on revamping the city’s drains, building pumping stations to reduce flooding and widening of the Mithi river.
Defending the expenditure, civic officials and the ruling Shiv Sena said that it was necessary to spend such amounts in projects which would benefit the city. For instance, projects like the Middle Vaitarna dam, expected to bring 455 Million litres of water per day to the city, and the Brimstowad, intended to benefit the city in the long run, have consumed a majority of the funds.