'Budget full of hollow promises'

Opposition Congress leader in the BBMP Council M K Gunashekar has criticised the Palike budget presented on Friday, calling it imbalanced. It does not speak about financial discipline, social justice and provision for the urban poor, he said.

In his four-hour speech in the Council meeting on Monday, he said the budget might be huge in size, but it had only hollow promises.

Regarding the realisation of the budget, Gunashekar said it was always very poor, but that did not deter the BBMP from presenting an inflated budget.

“You don’t learn lessons from the past and present bogus budget every time. This time the State government’s directions were very clear that a realistic budget should be presented, but you overlooked it,” said Gunashekar.

Speaking about the homeless people, Gunashekar said there should have been at least 80 night shelter homes as per the Supreme Court guidelines, but the City had hardly four or five.

He flayed the ruling dispensation for mortgaging many properties besides the Jayanagar Shopping Mall, KR Market and Utility Building to tide over the financial crisis. He mocked the claim of generating Rs 3,200 crore from property tax, when the tax collection last year was about Rs 1,350 crore.

Citing a Supreme Court ruling, Gunashekar advised the Mayor to tax government buildings too.

“As per the apex court ruling, you can tax up to 75 per cent of the property. If you can do it, you will generate more revenue. You should also collect taxes from big corporate houses sincerely,” said Gunashekar. He asked the Mayor to collect advertisement taxes promptly.

Loss in SWD

He also pointed to the loopholes in the functioning of the stormwater drains division, highlighted in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the BBMP.

“We had earmarked Rs 872 crore on remodelling of stormwater drains in the three valleys of Koramangala, Challaghatta and Hebbal, but we spent only Rs 52 crore,” Gunashekar said.

He demanded action against the consultant firm whose faulty detailed project report led to a loss of Rs 40 crore.

“We had given Rs 72 lakh to the consultancy firm, which did not do its job properly. Also, the necessary land acquisition was not done, which led to the loss,” said Gunashekar.
He, however, requested the Mayor to allow the present chief engineer Ananthaswamy to continue, because he had done extensive work and transferring him would necessitate the newcomer to understand the subject afresh.

Poor parking policy

He lambasted the BBMP administration for not coming out with an effecting parking policy.
“A public-private partnership model can be adopted to build multi-level car parking,” said Gunashekar.

He highlighted the plight of those owners whose properties have been marked for widening 216 roads.

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