Constructing toilets, installing park benches, newspaper reading stands and pavement tiles seem to have become outdated ideas, as “Selfie-Points” are now the most sought after money spenders for Neta’s in the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC). With civic elections just a few months away, some elected representatives from across the parties, are coming up with selfie points in their respective wards, in the hope of wooing young voters, while moving their focus away from the core civic issues like water supply, drainage, garbage disposal and roads. This at a time when the civic body is staring at an acute financial crisis. A sum of around Rs. 10 lakh to Rs 13 lakh is being spent for each selfie point.
However, this has not deterred the Public Works Department (PWD) from indulging in a spree of sanctions allowing corporators to use their area development funds for constructing selfie points unmindful of their locations. Justifying MBMC’s stand, civic chief Dilip Dhole said, “Beautifying the city and turning garbage prone areas from eye sore places to clean and charming points is the duty of the civic body under the Swachh Bharat Mission. Moreover we are allowing these selfie points as per state, center and judicial criteria.
As far as spending is concerned we are also trying to rope in private firms under their corporate social responsibility scheme.” Notably, most of the selfie points have come up by encroaching pavements and roadside pathways thus obstructing pedestrian movement which is in stark violation of Indian Road Congress rules while depriving the right of way to citizens.
In a desperate bail-out measure, the MBMC has recently dipped into its reserves by availing an overdraft facility against fixed deposits. It was contended that a major part of funds amounting more than Rs. 125 crore had been routed to spend on enhancing medical infrastructure to contain the spread of Covid-19, since the pandemic broke out last year.