Big-budget BMC fails to dig into its deep pockets

Paisa pinching Used 21% of capital budget in first 9 months this fiscal.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) may be the country's richest civic body with a Rs 26,500-crore budget, but it has managed to utilise only a fraction of funds set aside for capital expenditure in the first nine months of this fiscal.

BMC data shows that it has used only 21 per cent of its total planned capital budget meant for roads, solid waste management, fire brigade services, civic markets, health services and hospitals, education and storm water drains.

Critical areas such as health and solid waste management figure at the bottom with BMC having spent only 11 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. The civic body has earmarked almost 35 per cent of its budget for capital expenditure or expenditure that results in creation of productive assets.

While civic officials and corporators, claiming that the percentage is just a number, say some part of the physical work done in the departments has not been accounted for so far, experts feel that the poor performance is due to ineffective system of allotting contracts.

"A capital expenditure is 21 per cent so far is really low. One reason could be delay in awarding contracts. If that is taken care of, BMC's performance will improve," said Subodh Kumar, former municipal commissioner.

A senior civic official said the administration does little in the first six months of the financial year, which leads to piling up of work and hurried contract allotment later. "Most contracts are awarded in May or June, after which work cannot begin due to monsoon. If work starts in October, then majority of funds stay unutilised for most of the year, he said.

The civic body allotted the first set of road contracts worth Rs 388 crore of the total planned Rs 1,400 crore only in October last year. It also delayed allotment of contracts for solid waste management estimated at Rs 900 crore.

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