MUMBAI: Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal presented his first civic budget for the financial year (FY) 2021-22 on Wednesday. Despite the massive revenue shortfall, the budgetary estimate for the financial year 2021-22 has been pegged at Rs 39,038.83 crore, which is 16.74 per cent higher than that of the budget for FY 2020-21 (Rs 33,441.02 crore).
The civic budget, with a focus on infrastructure, health, education and transport, has introduced no new taxes while also deferring the revision in the property tax rate this year too.
The overall budget estimate of the revenue income for the financial year 2020-21 was Rs 28,448.30 crore, which was revised to Rs 22,572.13 crore, a reduction of Rs 5,876.17 crore. The budget estimate for the financial year 2021-22 for revenue income is proposed to be Rs 27,811.57 crore, Rs 636.73 crore less than that of 2020-21.
Rs 14,637 crore have been allocated for capital expenditure works in FY21, which includes traffic operation and roads (Rs 2,699.65 crore), the coastal road project (Rs 2,000 crore), water supply projects (Rs 1,728.85 crore), stormwater drains (Rs 912.10 crore), and sewage disposal (Rs 870.94 crore), among others.
Though only 48 per cent of last year’s allocation could be spent on various development projects on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, the civic body’s budget outlay is 16.74 per cent higher than that for last year. The total budget estimates for FY2020-21 were 8.95 per cent more than the 2019-20 fiscal’s budgetary outlay of Rs 30,692 crore, which was 12.5 per cent higher than the 2018-19 estimates.
Criticising the budget outlay, Samajwadi Party corporator and MLA from Bhiwandi Rais Shaikh said, “In my opinion, the budget for the year 2021-2022 has been inflated. In this budget, the commissioner has stated that Rs 4,000 crore will be taken out of the reserve fund and capital expenditure will be made and a loan of Rs 5,000 crore will be taken. Somewhere or the other, the burden of this debt will impact the pockets of ordinary citizens of Mumbai.”
He added, “Nothing in the budget for common people, slumdwellers, and residents of BDD Chawl. Shiv Sena’s announcement of exemption from property tax to Mumbaikars owning residential units/flats of 500 sqft or less turned out to be an eyewash.
Budget 2021 was also a crucial one for the ruling Shiv Sena in the civic body, being the run-up to the upcoming civic polls in 2022. Hence the marked emphasis on infrastructure and development projects, health and transport.
Meanwhile, a total of Rs 26,682.95 crore is being held by the BMC in reserve, towards committed liabilities in a position of trust. The remaining Rs 50,952.27 crore in the civic reserved funds have now been linked to various infrastructure projects. “This will ensure that reserves are funnelled towards capital expenditure, to improve infrastructure for citizens in Mumbai,” said Chahal.
Infrastructure and development projects
The BMC has allocated Rs 200 crore for the beautification of footpaths, traffic islands, spaces below flyovers and the Mumbai Street Food Hub project. Rs 150 crore have been allocated for the redressal of flooding spots in the city, a key promise made by the ruling Shiv Sena ahead of the February 2022 civic polls. Environment and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray has outlined his vision for a “sponge city, with aquifer recharge, rainwater percolation and holding tanks”.
A total of Rs 961 crore has been allocated for the bridges department. Provision has also been made to allocate Rs 750 crore for the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking, marking a 50 per cent decrease from the Rs 1,500 crore allotted last year. Two major road projects, the Mumbai coastal road project and the Goregaon-Mulund Link Road (GMLR), have been allotted Rs 2,000 crore and Rs 1,300 crore, respectively. The Mumbai Fire Brigade has been allocated Rs 199 crore, which marks an increase from the Rs 104 crore allocated last year. Rs 627 crore have been earmarked for the solid waste management department of Mumbai. The civic body has also set aside Rs 100 crore as monetary compensation for people who will be affected by various infra projects.
BMC has allocated Rs 4,278 crore to Mumbai’s healthcare for 2021-22, with Rs 822.72 crore to be invested in healthcare infrastructure. This marks an increase of 11 per cent from the Rs 4,260 crore allocated last year.
For education, the BMC has allocated Rs 2,945.78 crore, which is marginally higher than last year’s Rs 2,944.59 crore.
Last year, the MCGM came up with its own ‘Film Shooting Permission Policy’. This year it will be working closely with the Producers Guild of India and Maharashtra Film, Stage & Cultural Development Corporation on the framework to implement the ‘Special Entertainment Zone’ provisioned in the policy. This would promote Ancillary Industries and Film Tourism, leading to ‘local economic development’ in the proposed zone, according to the MCGM.
Top allocations to 5 civic departments
1. Solid waste management - Rs 3,658.90 crore
2. Development plan department - Rs 2,605.15 crore
3. Bridges department - Rs 2,280.81 crore
4. Education department - Rs 2,258.45 crore
5. Coastal road project - Rs 2,000.07 crore