PMC sets aside budget for citizens’ projects, then struggles to spend it

Civic body has increased the budgetary provision from Rs 26.24 cr in 2012-13 to Rs 36.9 cr for 2013-14

The participation of Puneites in civic budget making may have increased in the last few years, but when it comes to implementation of the suggestions, the civic body paints a dismal picture. As a result, despite budgetary provisions, funds remain unutilised.

The PMC had launched the initiative of citizens' participation in the preparation of budget in 2007-08. It had then made a provision of Rs 17.62 crore in the budget for works suggested by the citizens. But the PMC carried out works worth only Rs 11.32 crore that year.

In 2008-09 and 2009-10, the budgetary provision increased to Rs 27.27 crore and Rs 35 crore, respectively, but the expenditure was Rs 20.75 crore in 2008-09 and Rs 21.62 crore in 2009-10. Consequently, the provisions reduced to Rs 30.16 crore in 2010-11, Rs 34.73 crore in 2011-12 and Rs 26.24 crore in 2012-13. The amount spent was Rs 16.55 crore in 2010-11 and Rs 23.28 crore in 2011-12.

As per the PMC initiative, citizens can suggest works in their respective area that would be mainly pertaining to maintenance and repairs with small development projects. The areas specified were improvement in road, electricity, buildings, slum-improvement, water supply and drainage. The expenditure on each project should not exceed Rs 5 lakh.

"The initiative taken by NGO Janwani resulted in the increase in budgetary provision for works suggested by citizens. This is a good sign that many citizens are coming forward for the purpose," said Ulka Kalaskar, chief accountant of PMC. Asked about the poor implementation of the budgetary provision, she said it was upto each ward office to spend the money allocated for the purpose. "PMC ward offices carry out the actual implementation and many times problems arise due to unavailability of land, service existing already or no necessity of the service or infrastructure proposed at the location," she said.

Naim Keruwala of Janwani said there was good response to the initiative of creating awareness and providing guidance to fill up the application for suggesting development works in their respective area. "The number of suggestions were 600 in 2012-2013 and they increased to 3,300 for the coming financial year. This also increased the budgetary provision for the purpose," he added.

Despite concerns over poor implementation, PMC has increased the budgetary provision from Rs 26.24 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 36.9 crore for the financial year 2013-14. Keruwala said Janwani would also keep track on the implementation of the citizen participatory budget.

In the increased provision for next financial year, road development has the largest share followed by electricity and piped drainage. Among the wards, the largest allocation — Rs 3 crore each — for 2013-2014 has been made for public works on Nagar Road, in Bhavani Peth and Kasba Vishrambaugwada.

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