The 2018-19 financial year is almost halfway through, but the state government has not released any grants to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) so far, making it difficult for the cash-strapped civic body to take up developmental works.
Grants from the government are the major source of revenue for the BBMP. Release of funds is crucial as there are several infrastructure projects that are under way — whitetopping, TenderSURE, grade separators and lake development among others.
The government has earmarked Rs 2,500 crore for the civic body in the budget. “We have submitted proposals for release of funds,” BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad said.
Apparently, the finance department is staving off BBMP’s requests for release of funds. “The finance department is raising one query after another, which happens only when there’s a fund crunch,” a senior BBMP official, who did not want to be identified, pointed out.
According to sources, the BBMP has pending bills amounting to Rs 350 crore under the Nagarotthana scheme. “Clearing these bills is important for us to take up new works,” the official said.
Apart from grants for the current financial year, the state government has kept pending grants of Rs 4,816 crore of the previous two financial years (2016-17 and 2017-18). These grants are part of the Rs 7,300-crore bonanza the previous Siddaramaiah-led Congress government had approved for Bengaluru’s development. “The action plan for the entire Rs 7,300 crore was cleared in one shot in 2016 itself because the government was mindful of the fact that the approval process will take time,” Prasad explained.
Sources in the BBMP attribute the delay in release of funds to Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s ambitious Rs 44,000-crore farm loan waiver scheme, which has virtually drained the state exchequer, leaving little elbow room for the government to take up other developmental works.
This concern is in line with what KR Puram legislator BA Basavaraja (Byrathi) of the Congress told DH recently. “As a result of the farm loan waiver, we aren’t expecting much,” he said, referring to development grants that Congress legislators received, arguably generously, under the previous regime.
Meanwhile, according to a BBMP progress report, several infrastructure works are going at a slow pace. The civic body has achieved a physical progress of 33.5% across 21 various projects. This includes whitetopping of major roads, for which the the BBMP has achieved only 20% progress on the ground.