BBMP budget old wine in new bottle

S P Hemalatha, chairperson of the Standing Committee on Taxation and Finance, arrives with the suitcase before presenting the BBMP budget on Monday. Corporator M Anand is also seen. (DH Photo)

Facing bitter criticism over poor infrastructure, polluted waterbodies and failing to address the burgeoning garbage crisis, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Monday rolled out a surplus budget filled with sops, subsidies and slew of welfare schemes for various strata of society.

Refusing to let go of the last opportunity to impress upon the Bengalureans ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun and her team attempted to script their way through the hearts of the people.

Even as the corporators from the Opposition BJP dubbed the budget as ‘Bogus’ with hardly any people friendly programmes, the budget for the 2019-20 financial year predominantly focussed on the development of infrastructure with about 40% of the allocated funds planned for works like roads, footpaths, drains, city parks and rainwater harvesting programmes.

Multiple welfare schemes

Stating to mobilise resources by way of property tax, advertisement tax, service taxes, betterment charges the BBMP has showered citizens from SC/ST communities, differently abled, street hawkers, economically weaker sections and women with multiple welfare schemes.

The budget allocated Rs 30 crore for setting up of Reverse osmosis plants in those localities where SC/ST people are living in large numbers, besides announcing Rs 12 crore for the mid-day meal scheme for civic workers.

This apart, a total of Rs 100 crore has been earmarked for building houses for SC/ST beneficiaries. People from backward communities working in burial grounds will get financial assistance to build houses and Rs 1 crore has been set aside. Improving the living conditions of these people across Bengaluru, Rs 80 crore has been earmarked to spruce up infrastructure facilities like road, water and sanitation.

Providing reprieve to those ailing from renal problems, the civic body has proposed to set up dialysis centre in all the assembly constituencies and a grant of Rs 25 crore has been set aside for this.

Interestingly the State budget had also listed the same programme at a cost of Rs 15 crore. Rebranding the previous ‘Pink Baby’ scheme, a new programme ‘Mahalakshmi Yojana’ has been announced with 15-year maturity bonds of Rs 1 lakh for baby girls born between April 2019 and March 2020. The budget allocated a whopping Rs 60 cr for the project.

Assistance for women

Taking a cue from the State budget of the previous Congress government, the BBMP announced ‘Annapoorneshwarai programme’ at a cost of Rs 5 crore through which economically weaker section women will be assisted with funds to set up mobile canteens. A total of Rs 19.80 crore has been set aside to take
up women-centric welfare programmes, including training for women in vocational
skills.

Striking a balance in its gender approach, Rs 1 crore funds have also been earmarked for programmes targetting transgender community of the city.

Promising to serve the differently abled citizens, the budget increased the grants from earlier Rs 63 crore to Rs 75 crore. Several programmes like Jaipur limbs, distribution of tri-cycles and walking sticks have been included.

Ensuring a healthy Bengaluru, the budget proposed to provide cardiac patients with free stents at a cost of Rs 4 Crore, upgradation of several maternity and referral hospitals. Providing facilities to the patients’ caretakers by setting up Dharmashalas at Kidwai and Rajiv Gandhi Institute of chest diseases Rs 10 crore has also been set aside.

Promoting the ongoing Roshni programme, the budget provided with additional funds to make BBMP-run schools model schools on par with the private schools by supplying with state-of-the-art facilities and advanced teaching equipment facilitating easy and effective learning.

A cash incentive of Rs 25,000 to 150 SSLC toppers and Rs 35,000 for II PUC toppers from BBMP schools and colleges have also been proposed.

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BBMP budget old wine in new bottle

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