BMC Budget 2019: Over 20 percent capital expenditure increase for big ticket plans

Mumbai: Even though the budget of the BMC for 2019-20 has risen marginally, by over 12.60 per cent or Rs 3,434.52 crore, it is devoid of new projects and plans. The focus will be on the existing projects and, accordingly, the BMC has increased capital expenditure by 20.25 per cent, or Rs 1,933.12 crore.

‘‘The focus of the budget is on big-ticket projects like the Mumbai Coastal Road, the Goregaon-Mulund Link Road, the sewage treatment plant project, the Development Plan 2034, etc. Thus, more money has been allotted to capital account,” said Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta. The BMC will draw upon its reserves for these big-ticket projects, Mehta said.

“The BMC has fixed deposit accounts in major nationalised banks and a part of the interest earned through these deposits will be utilised in the poster projects,” he informed. However, the budget was criticised by opposition for lacking creativity. “We expected new projects and plans in the budget, however, the corporation has failed to live up to our expectations,” said Rakhi Jadhav, an NCP corporator.

The total cost of the Mumbai Coastal Road project is around Rs 12,969 crore and the budget proposal allots Rs 1,600.07 crore for this year’s expenditure. Similarly, this year’s budget provides Rs 100 crore and Rs 120 crore, respectively, for the Goregaon-Mulund Link Road and the Tansa cycle track projects.

Another important project — Development Plan 2034 — the city’s blueprint, which envisages select gardens, dispensaries, hospitals, playgrounds, cemeteries, solid waste segregation projects and BMC-run retail markets — got the lion’s share of Rs 3,323.64 crore.

In health, education and roads sectors, allocations were increased by 15 per cent, or Rs 649.28 crore, Rs 164.42 crore and Rs 144.14 crore, respectively. The road budget covers maintenance and safety, lighting, footpath and traffic. Bridge repair and restoration was allocated Rs 600.75 crore; Rs 100 crore is for the waste-to-energy project; and Rs 10.41 crore is earmarked for building walls around the Deonar and Mulund dumping grounds. Besides, Rs 110.78 crore has been set aside for the expansion of the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo.

The allocation for the fire department is Rs 177.35 crore, of which Rs 125 crore is for acquisition of new equipment. The water supply projects of Mumbai have got Rs 377.9 crore, while the sewage disposal projects got Rs 244.36 crore. Minor allocations have been made to projects like preservation of heritage structures, beautification of beaches in Mumbai and the disaster management department.

In the preceding financial year, there was a dip in property tax and development planning department revenues. Property tax collections have dipped by almost Rs 200 crore. “The slowdown in property tax and development department revenues is due to slowdown in the real estate sector,” said Ajoy Mehta.

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