The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday unveiled a whopping Rs 45,949.21 crore budget 2022-2023, up by 18 per cent over the previous year’s
Rs 39,039.83 crore with a tiny surplus of Rs 8.43 crore.
With the upcoming BMC elections, this year, the country’s biggest and richest civic body will have a massive focus on health, infrastructure, ecology, flood control, besides improving the ‘ease’ and ‘quality’ of life for the 1.75-crore Mumbaikars living in the country’s commercial and glamour capital.
Some highlights are constructing and redevelopment of major hospitals, rejuvenation of the Mithi river, electric vehicle charging centres, IGCSE and IB schools in the Mumbai civic education bouquet, and appointing Urban Space Designers to improve the civic landscape.
Presenting the budget at the Standing Committee meeting, Municipal Commissioner I. S. Chahal said that the estimated revenues this year would be Rs 30,743.61 crore, which is higher by Rs 2,832.04 crore over the previous year’s estimates, and the actual income received till January 2022 was Rs 30,851.18 crore.
On the crucial health front – as the city was the worst-hit in the country during the Covid-19 pandemic of the past two years – the BMC will spend Rs 6933.75 crore – or 15.09 per cent of the total budget – to augment and improve various health-care facilities.
This would include: 200 HinduHridaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Health Centres under the ‘Health care at your neighbourhood’ scheme, setting up 200 Shiv Yoga Centres, standardising and modernising civic dispensaries, constructing a new Centenary Hospital in Govandi, a medical college building at Cooper Hospital, redevelopment of two major medical facilities – Bhagwati Hospital in Borivali, Sion Hospital, plus Sidharth/Murli Deora Eye Hospitals, a new Cancer Hospital for Proton Therapy at the KEM Hospital premises, expanding the MT Agarwal Hospital and Bhabha Hospital, extending the Nair Dental College, etc.
Eyeing the civic polls, the BMC will stress on major flood-control measures with an outlay of Rs 1,539.79 crore, for the revival of the 18-kms long Mithi River and its other branches in the suburbs at Dahisar, Poisar, Oshiwara and their major drainage nullahs, plus 386 chronic flood spots that result in submerging many parts of the city during the monsoons.
Chahal said that 95 per cent of the widening and deepening work, 80 per cent of retaining wall construction of Mithi River are completed which has doubled the holding capacity and carrying capacity by 3 times, while the plan for development and pollution control is ready and shall be implemented in four packages.
The BMC has strengthened the capacity to pump out floodwaters in different parts of the city, improved its Storm Water Drain network based on the BRIMSTOWAD Master Plan Report of 1993, and of 58 priority works, 42 have been completed, 13 are in progress and 3 have yet to be taken up.
On the infrastructure front, the BMC will spend Rs 3200 crore for the ambitious Coastal Road Project, visualised by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Rs 1300 crore for the Goregaon-Mulund Link Road with 2 flyovers, and Rs 1340 crore for a Sewerage Treatment Project.
For the ‘eco-friendly’ image of Mumbai known as a ‘concrete jungle,’ a significant 219 kms of roads in the city will be improved during the year, electronic vehicle (EV) charging stations in all the 30 major public parking lots, EVs shall be deployed for garbage collection-segregation, Rs 1 crore specifically for ‘electric and electronic waste’ recovery centre in each BMC Ward, more electric crematoria and eco-friendly funeral pyres.
On January 14, the BMC became only the 3rd civic body in the world after Dubai and Singapore to offer 80 public services via a ChatBot, and this year it will become ‘smarter’ by permitting ‘digital advertisements’ to boost revenue, promote digital forms of collecting Property Tax and Water Tax bills, and also other payments.
Stressing on education with a budget of Rs 3370.24 crore – 14.45 per cent higher than last year’s Rs 2945.78 crore – the BMC plans to provide 19,401 SSC students with tabs with latest syllabus, an improvement academic tool in the days of online education, digitalise 1,300 classrooms, and a pilot project of E-Libraries in 50 primary schools.
Already offering the Maharashtra Board, CBSE and ICSE boards in civic schools, this year the BMC will introduce Cambridge University-affiliated IGCSE and one International Baccalaureate (IB) for the derided amunicipality students’.
To ‘ease’ the life of citizens, the BMC will empanel Urban Space Designers to study and rework on roads, pavements, and community spaces to enhance the ‘Ease of Walking’, instal more streetlights for security of women and children and seniors under the ‘Ease of Safety’, new bridges/cement-concrete roads for ‘Ease of Commute’, besides its other ‘easing’ policies like ‘Ease of Doing Business’, ‘Ease of Compliance’, ‘East of Monitoring’ and ‘Ease of Service Delivery’, etc.
In a New Year bonanza announced by the CM, the BMC will exempt Property Tax from 16,14,000 people owning a residential property of 500-sq.feet carpet area which will lead to a drop of Rs 462 crore in the annual revenues.
The Congress Group Leader in BMC Ravi Raja and Bharatiya Janata Party city MLA Ashish Shelar and other opposition parties slammed the budget as ‘disappointing’ and ‘lacking on various fronts’.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: email@example.com)