The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, on February 2, 2018, presented a budget of Rs 27,258 crores for 2018-19, an increase of 8.4 per cent from the current fiscal’s figure of Rs 25,151 crores, with no new tax or hikes added to the existing tax regime. BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta, while announcing the budget estimates, said that the civic body has focused on some of the projects that were announced in last year’s budget, in order to give them a fresh impetus. These projects include the Coastal Road, which has got an allocation of Rs 1,500 crores and the Goregaon–Mulund Link Road, for which a sum of Rs 100 crores has been earmarked.
The BMC has provided Rs 4,145 crores for roads, Rs 2,569 crores for education, Rs 3,636 crores for healthcare, Rs 929 crores for storm water drains, Rs 180 crores for modernisation of the civic body’s Fire Brigade, Rs 11.69 crores for disaster management, including equipping its personnel with satellite phones and Rs 28 crores to install LED lights across the city.
It has earmarked Rs 100 crore to reconstruct cycling and walking tracks parallel to the Tansa water pipeline. Mehta said that the BMC would be getting a grant of Rs 8,401 crores, by way of Good and Services Tax reimbursement from the centre and the state government. He informed that Rs 61 crores had been kept, for providing medicines and equipment in civic-run hospitals in the suburbs.
He said that the BMC would opt for the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model to open schools that have closed down for various reasons, adding that it had planned to restart 35 such schools, closed for want of students, by tapping into CSR funds and approaching educational trusts. These schools will be affiliated to CBSE, ICSE or other such educational boards, he informed. In order to provide international quality education to its students, the BMC has proposed to start 24 international schools, one each in the civic body’s 24 administrative wards. It has also proposed to install 381 sanitary napkin vending machines in 345 schools for girl students of Class VI to VIII. The BMC’s budget also proposed a Rs five-crore plan, to install 4,064 CCTV cameras in 381 municipal schools.
Later, talking to reporters, Mehta said that the civic body’s prime objective, was to push basic and infrastructure projects in the megacity, besides upgrading living standards of the people. The budget has earmarked Rs 9,527.8 crores for capital expenditure in 2018-19, against the budgetary allocation of Rs 8,121.58 crores in the current fiscal. He said, “Of this amount (Rs 8,121.58 crores), we have spent Rs 6,111 crores, which is 56 percent, or Rs 3,416 crores more than last year’s expenditure of Rs 3,850 crores. This is part of our emphasis on infrastructure.”
Mehta said that for the first time, the BMC had managed to match revenue income with total expenditure, adding that it was because the BMC fundamentally focused on capital expenditure. It also proposed to do away with pay and use toilets, with the civic body planning to gradually take them back from contractors and operate them free of cost. Explaining the reason behind this, Mehta said, “We were receiving frequent complaints from users regarding over charging. Plus they (operators) were not maintaining hygiene. This is why we decided to take back our toilets. We will build or convert them into posh toilets that will be handed over to people who can operate it free of cost.”