BMC budget ₹46 cr shy of ₹60k cr mark | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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BMC budget 46 cr shy of 60k cr mark

Feb 03, 2024 08:32 AM IST

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Mumbai has announced a budget of ₹59,954.75 crore for 2024-25, just ₹46 crore short of the ₹60,000-crore mark. The allocation is 10.5% higher than the previous year, but no new projects were announced and little provision was made to address air pollution. The capital expenditure in this year's budget is higher than the revenue expenditure, with 53% going towards development. The budget includes allocations for the coastal road, the Goregaon Mulund Link Road, and a study on making major infrastructure projects self-sustainable.

Mumbai: In a budget speech peppered with platitudes to chief minister Eknath Shinde and his pet projects and schemes, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner Iqbal Chahal pegged the civic body’s budget for 2024-25 at 59,954.75 crore, just 46 crore short of the 60,000-crore mark. Though the allocation was 10.5% more than the 2023-24 budget of 54,256.07 crore, no new projects were announced, neither was any significant provision made to mitigate air pollution, on which the BMC was severely reprimanded by the high court some time back.

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Like in the 2023-24 budget, the capital expenditure (meant for various development and infrastructure works) in this year’s budget was higher than the revenue expenditure (that includes salaries of employees, pension and establishment costs); the first was pegged at 31,774 crore, 25.5% more than last year, while the second was pegged at 24,633, 14.16% more than last year.

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Chahal explained that both the state government and the central government had been trying to increase capital expenditure to ensure more money was routed for development.

“In 2020-21, BMC’s revenue expenditure was 72% and the capital expenditure was 28%. But in today’s budget for 2024-25, the revenue expenditure is 47% and capital expenditure is 53%. This is the major change in the last four years – that for every rupee earned, 53 paisa goes towards development and 47 paisa goes towards salaries and pensions. This is a very healthy trend,” he stated.

This was the second consecutive time that Chahal presented the civic body’s annual budget as the state-appointed administrator, and the third such instance overall, since 1985. The task is usually undertaken by the deliberative wing, comprising sitting corporators, whose five-year term ended on March 7, 2022.

Chahal proposed no new taxes in this year’s budget, although he mooted a study for revising sewerage and water charges. He mentioned various government schemes advocated by CM Shinde such as the deep cleaning drive, Mumbai beautification project, Clean Mumbai Helpline and Zero Prescription Policy in civic body-run hospitals.

In efforts to address air pollution in the city, 80 crore was allocated for the Air Pollution Mitigation Action Plan, under which 700 kms of roads and footpath will be washed thoroughly using around 200 tankers of water and more than 1,000 dedicated staff. An additional 25 crore was allocated for prevention of air pollution in the city. A green budget to combat air pollution is also likely to be rolled out by the end of this year. To support women entrepreneurs with 1 lakh financial assistance, the civic body has allocated 250 crore.

Ravi Raja, former leader of opposition called said the budget presented by Chahal was merely old wine in a new bottle.

“The capital expenditure is not more than 40%, although infra projects are the backbone of Mumbai. There is also nothing new for Mumbaikars. They are just replaying the old budget and there is no new development for the city,” he said

Gokhale bridge

Chahal also announced that work on concretisation and steel reinforcement of one arm of the Gokhale bridge is complete, and it will be opened to the public on February 25. Work on dismantling the Teli Gali approach road and matching the slope on the eastern side of the bridge is underway, and all remaining work such as painting, street lighting, direction boards, lane-marking and load testing will be undertaken within the deadline, he said.

Dip in reserves

According to budget documents, the BMC’s financial reserves have dipped by 4%. On December 31, 2022, the reserves stood at 88,216 crore, while on December 31, 2023, it was 84,824 crore. The civic body has proposed to withdraw 11,627 crore from its fixed deposits to fund ongoing infrastructure projects.

BIG TICKET PROJECTS:

Among big ticket projects, 2,960crore was allocated for the coastal road (Versova to Dahisar) and the Goregaon Mulund Link Road (GMLR).

“It takes 1 hour to travel from Mulund to Goregaon, but this will be reduced to 10 minutes once work on the 2,600 crore GMLR tunnel project is complete. PM Modi will perform the bhumipujan of the project on February 19, which was thought of 11 years ago,” said Chahal. An amount of 1,870 crore was alloacted for GMLR, while the allocation for beautification was 340 crore. Chahal also proposed a study on making all upcoming major infrastructure projects self-sustainable.

SEWERAGE CHARGES:

Sewerage charges are levied at 70% of water charges since 2015. But Chahal proposed to revise these charges due to the “ever increasing actual expenditure incurred on projects of the Sewerage Treatment Plants.” A ‘financial study’ to revise extra water and sewerage charges based on built up area has also been mooted.

ROADS:

Out of around 2000 km roads that were to be concretised in the city for 6,000 crore, work on 1,224 km is complete, and another 800 km is pending. The work was started in January 2023, and a tender for making 209 km roads in Mumbai 100% pothole-free was floated a day earlier, said Chahal.

GARDENS:

Although provision of 354.39 crore was proposed for gardens in the revised expenditure for 2023-24, in the budget, the funds for gardens was halved to 178.50 crore. The allocation focuses on increasing the city’s open spaces and maintaining existing green spaces. An online service will also be introduced under Ease of Doing Business norms, where stadiums and theatres can be booked for recreation.

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