Former municipal commissioners flay ‘unfriendly’ BMC budget

Two former municipal commissioners joined city planners and activists Wednesday in raising concern over the BMC decision to replace octroi with a local body tax (LBT) from 2013-14, its failure to provide 24x7 water and a budget that is not user-friendly.

At a discussion on BMC budget 2013-14 organised by Bombay First and Maharashtra Economic Development Council, several citizens criticised poor implementation of the development plan and the deteriorating solid waste management system.

Former municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar said: "LBT might not ensure revenue. There are alternatives such as surcharge on entertainment BMC could have introduced."

He also decried failure of the civic administration in ensuring 24x7 water supply.

Kunti Oza of Clean Mumbai Foundation said BMC needed to introduce a new solid waste management system that would ensure proper garbage collection in every ward. "In most wards, there is no proper garbage collection on time. Most importantly, there are no dustbins along major roads in 'A' ward."

Former municipal commissioner D M Sukthankar said BMC failed to implement the development plan. "There is no monitoring by the civic administration to ensure the development plan, which also provides for much-needed open space, is properly implemented," he said.

Environmentalist Rishi Agarwal called for a more transparent and citizen-friendly civic administration.

"The BMC website should be easily accessible to all. Most servers cannot access the website."

Abhay Pethe of department of economics, Mumbai University, highlighted the gap between budgeted project work and budgeted revenue expenditure.

"The budget should be user-friendly. One needs expert advice to understand budget 2013-14. Councillors and citizens cannot comprehend the data presented. The budget can ideally be accompanied by a supplement to understand it."

In an analysis, Pethe also points out that the actual expenditure on select public goods compared with budget estimate was lower for the past four years.

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