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Chatter that Matters: Are BMC study tours a good use of public money?

BMC’s Works Committee chairman Datta Pongade of the Shiv Sena recently proposed a study tour to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with the stated aim being to study the drainage system there and borrow ideas that can be replicated in Mumbai to tackle water-logging.

FPJ Political Bureau | Updated on: Monday, January 20, 2020, 04:58 AM IST

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After coming in for severe flak for what was seen as an unnecessary waste of public funds, corporators of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had, in 2016, themselves resolved to stop `study tours’ to other cities or countries. Now, a slew of proposals for such `study tours’ are again being moved by corporators under various pretexts.

BMC’s Works Committee chairman Datta Pongade of the Shiv Sena recently proposed a study tour to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with the stated aim being to study the drainage system there and borrow ideas that can be replicated in Mumbai to tackle water-logging.

The proposal for the tour was amended by another member, who proposed a study tour to Chandigarh instead. The civic Improvements Committee has also proposed a study tour to visit Bengaluru, Ooty and Mysuru. FPJ asked its readers: `Will `study tours’ by BMC corporators yield results, or are they simply a waste of public money?’ Here’s a look at what a cross-section of Mumbaikars had to say on the issue:

"I think, sending corporators on study tours is a waste of public money, because they do not implement any measures on the ground, but just make proposals on paper. I lost my entire house in the 2005 floods and since then, our city has not improved. Whenever there is heavy rainfall for a long time, the whole city gets flooded. Also, the demographics and topography of Mumbai are very different from any other city, so what works in other cities might not be feasible here, "said Elcy Pinto, a teacher.

"I believe the BMC. Corporators are going for study tours, since they feel that more exposure will help them solve our problems. It is a good idea if these tours are regulated and no one ends up taking their families and friends with them on these tours. The final result will be judged by us during the next elections while they seek votes," — Adnan Shaikh, an advocate.

"It's a good initiative as I believe if executed properly, the corporators will learn a lot, provided their work is at the ground level. The BMC must ensure that they submit a report on the work done based on the observations. Speaking of public money, I would suggest the civic body should make the balance sheet and accounts available in the public domain", Swapnil Patil, a patent agent commented.

"I f any corporators are interested to go, they must pay for the trip themselves. Taxpayers’ money should not be used for these tours. None of the corporators submit any reports on what they have learned from the tours. But with ongoing improvements in the technological aspects in every other field, it is important to get and share this knowledge with other countries so that we have an updated and latest knowledge. If something like this is not taken seriously, it ultimately affects the development of the city and this is something which needs to be taken seriously by the corporators. They are chosen by citizens to make sure that the work they are doing is aimed at developing the city," —Mayur Patankar, a cinematographer.

"The corporators might use the public money and have a gala time on the tour. Even if they learn something, how many of them will take the effort to implement it in Mumbai? Instead, the BMC should send students or faculty, who are into research or field work, who can actually make use of the opportunity and implement new measures. It can help us in our academics and also provide a chance to contribute to the society," —Maya Kadwadkar, student and professional Disc Jockey (DJ)

"Everyone knows how BMC officials and corporators misuse public money. They always claim that they are going on study tours to learn new techniques for developing the city, but everything just remains on paper and end up wasting crores on their holidays and not for learning anything useful",—Anjali Singh, a banker.

"Instead of wasting money on unwanted research, the corporators should stop illegal constructions in their areas, especially which might harm the environment and also curb encroachments," Sumesh Panjwani an advocate.

"It’s a great idea to send corporators for study tours, but only if they spend their own money. They can make use of the large salaries they get. Also, I think, a system can be introduced wherein only eligible and educated corporators are sent on study tours, so as to avoid misuse of public funds and also the tour," —Omkar Khanaj, professional kabaddi player.

"Study tours by BMC corporators is a good idea since it helps corporators to observe the practicalities of new challenges and technologies with the change in times. Also it will give the corporators on-field experience. However, I feel once they get elected, they become detached from the ground reality. I believe the corporators need to submit a detailed report of their visit to make sure there is utmost transparency in the matter", said Abhishek Yadav, a corporate communications executive.

"It is a great idea as these Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation corporators are our representatives and if they go for such a tour, they can understand the systems and the working processes of the respective places they visit. The recent four-day trip to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to study water storage facilities and drainage system there, have given the corporators an impression and sense of how things work there. It will help them learn and implement similar policies effectively here as well. Such trips will definitely yield dividends. And, I believe, they will boost the development of our city. I don’t think there should be any problem if the corporation uses public funds for such study tours", —Krithika Acharya, social media analyst.

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Published on: Monday, January 20, 2020, 04:58 AM IST