The standing committee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which comprises elected representatives and is mandated to take decisions on financial issues, has cleared 69 civic contracts worth over Rs 500 crores within an hour, on March 5, 2019. These contracts, related to various works to be undertaken by the country’s richest civic body and budget allocated to them, were cleared ahead of the announcement of the Lok Sabha poll schedule, which will immediately bring into force the model code of conduct, civic officials said.
The poll code bars authorities from taking any major decisions, which may be seen as influencing voters. “In the normal year, when we do not have to face code of conduct, we thoroughly discuss budget proposals and then pass them, considering their pros and cons. However, this time, we were running short of time as the code of conduct may come into force any day,” said a senior Shiv Sena corporator.
“Had the standing committee gone by order, then, we would have to hold these proposals (worth Rs 500 crores) till the completion of the Lok Sabha elections. By September, the code of conduct for assembly elections (in Maharashtra) will come into force. So, it was necessary to pass the budget now, or we would have to wait for October or November,” he said. “This would have resulted in delay in various works being undertaken by the civic body in various areas, by almost one year,” the Sena leader explained. According to a BMC spokesperson, major works related to the appointment of a consultant for the Bhandup sewage treatment plant, cleaning of drains ahead of the monsoon, repair of roads and municipal schools and procurement of bed linen for BMC hospitals, were cleared by the committee members.
The standing committee meeting began at 2.30 pm and by 3.15 pm, most of the proposals were approved, an official, who was privy to the development, said. “It’s not something like the proposals were cleared in the blink of an eye. They were tabled by the administration, only after thorough scrutiny. All (proposals) are for the betterment of people and all parties supported them also,” the official said.