BMC’s urban poor concern an eyewash

Budget Allocation less than Rs 70 cr for poverty alleviation, Dharavi and chawls improvement

The proclaimed concern of the civic administration for the 5 lakh urban poor in the city is not reflected in the budget for 2013-14.

Of the Rs 6,945 crore BMC has set aside for the section, Rs 2,472 crore is for primary education and Rs 2,247 for basic health services. Much-needed schemes for urban poverty alleviation through self-help groups (SHGs), Clean and Healthy Dharavi programme and improvement of chawls have received less than Rs 70 crore.

BMC has allocated Rs 151 crore to upgrade slums, while the slum adoption programme will get Rs 7 crore. It has marginally increased water subsidy to the poor to Rs 1,081 crore from 1,050 crore.

The urban housing and poverty alleviation ministry had directed municipal bodies in 2010 to allot a minimum 25 per cent of annual budget and create a Basic Services to Urban Poor Fund.

A reform under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission called for internal earmarking of 25 per cent of civic budgets for basic services to the urban poor. Last year, BMC budgeted Rs 6,553 crore for the poor, in 2011-12 Rs 4,562.68 crore and in 2010-11 Rs 4,351 crore.

It is mandatory for municipal bodies to keep a certain amount for the poor to avail JNNURM funding for other development projects.

Meanwhile, BMC plans to sharpen focus on urban poverty alleviation by decentralising the process of identifying and helping SHGs.

It plans to lend financial and other support to almost 10,000 SHGs.Presenting the budget, the municipal commissioner said, "Ward-level officers have been directed to create SHGs, train them and provide funds."

The project will be extended to women SHGs. BMC also plans to train about 75,000 people who can later be absorbed as drivers, beauticians, electricians, etc.

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