Aaditya Thackeray says BMC budget will spell Mumbai’s financial bankruptcy, terms it pro-contractor

The Aam Admi Party and the Congress also criticised the Rs 52,619-crore budget
Last Updated : 04 February 2023, 17:13 IST

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Mumbai civic body’s budget for 2023-24 is pro-contractor and will pave the way for Mumbai’s financial bankruptcy, said Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray on Saturday, while the Bharatiya Janata Party called it “truly for Mumbaikars”.

The Aam Admi Party and the Congress also criticised the Rs 52,619-crore budget, which was presented by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) chief and administrator Iqbal Singh Chahal.

“The unconstitutional state Govt and the BMC governed by the administrator has been showing moral and legal bankruptcy for 6 months. Today’s BMC budget shows that it has begun to pave way for Mumbai’s financial bankruptcy,” tweeted Aaditya Thackeray.

Until the term of the corporators got over last March, the Shiv Sena had ruled the BMC for more than two decades. The Uddhav Thackeray-led party split in June 2022 following a rebellion by Eknath Shinde, who joined hands with the BJP to form the government in the state. BMC elections are expected to be held this year.

Demanding the BMC to explain “hiked expenses” in its “pro contractor” budget, Aaditya Thackeray said, “While on one hand, we clearly see contractor friends of this unconstitutional State Govt benefitting, the MC’s (Chahal’s) speech finds a mention of curbing expenses, which should be told to the bosses in Govt rather than Mumbaikars.”

The AAP targeted the BMC over utilisation of funds.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led party, which is trying to expand its footprints in Mumbai, said the budget is “an annual ritual” aimed at throwing big numbers but utilisation of funds year after year reveals a “sordid saga of ineptitude and incompetence”.

The allocation of Rs 3,347 crore for education is a mere 6.36 per cent of the overall outlay, while healthcare saw a 9 per cent dip to Rs 6,309 crore and is 12 per cent of the overall figures, said AAP.

On the allocation of Rs 800 crore for city transporter BEST, AAP said it was a reduction of 42 per cent. “The BEST is being systematically throttled and is being allowed to bleed to a slow death, with zero focus on mass transit,” said the party.

AAP claimed that fixed deposits are being used to compensate for “operational inefficiencies and cost escalation”. “A record Rs 18,746 crore will be withdrawn from BMC's reserve fund, which is unprecedented,” said the party, adding, “This budget is not for the aam aadmi but for the contractor lobby.”

Ravi Raja, former Congress corporator called the BMC budget “inflated”, “not at all realistic” and “sheer disappointment for Mumbaikars”. “BMC must make plans to up the revenue and curb the unnecessary expenses,” he tweeted.

He said it is clear that the BMC will “dip into fixed deposits”. He said, “Though the figure of 80,000 crores of fixed deposits looks impressive on paper, most of the deposits are of PF and gratuity of employees which BMC can't touch,” he tweeted.

Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar said the budget is not for people working for cuts, commissions and contractors, but it is “truly” for the Mumbaikars.

“For the past 25 years, the BMC’s budget has always been of, by and for the contractors. Even the works prescribed to be carried out used to be as per the whims of the contractors and the budget used to also be one favouring the contractors,” Shelar claimed.

Shelar said he had urged Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to intervene after Mumbai's air quality index dropped from “poor” to “very poor”. As a result, this year, a budgetary allocation of Rs 1,500 crore has been made, which is a great step, he said.

Welcoming the provision to provide footpaths on either side of roads that are wider than 9 metres, Shelar also appreciated the “no tax hike” measure and termed the provisions made for infrastructure like roads, health, coastal road, and sewage disposal “a good move”.

“The budget is not the one favouring only the contractors but it is a budget made to address the demands of Mumbaikars," Shelar claimed.

Published 04 February 2023, 17:13 IST

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