On February 4th, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) presented a budget of Rs 52,619.07 crore for the year 2023-24. This marked a significant moment in the city’s history, as Commissioner IS Chahal, serving as an administrator in the absence of an elected council, drafted and then presented and approved the budget.
The BMC had earlier invited suggestions on the budget from the public. Chahal told the press that municipal corporation had received 965 suggestions “many of which were incorporated in the budget”.
He said, “For example, we have allotted Rs 180 crore to maintain gardens and open spaces. Also based on their inputs, we have come up with a pedestrian first policy.” This year’s budget estimates achieved a historic high as it surpassed the Rs 50,000 crore mark for the first time ever.
Here are some more key points from the 2023-24 BMC budget:
The BMC has allocated Rs 27,427 crore for capital expenditures, accounting for around 52% of the total budget allocation. These funds will be utilised for infrastructure works and development projects. A total of Rs 3553 crore has been allotted for the Coastal Road Project, roads and traffic department has been allotted Rs 3,630 crore, Rs 3179 crore has been earmarked for bridges.
Chahal also added that that in 2023, the BMC will initiate the second phase of the coastal road project, which will connect Versova in western suburbs to Dahisar in northern end of the city.
Meanwhile, Storm Water Drains (SWD) and solid waste management have been allotted Rs 3,266 crore and Rs 4,710 crore each.
Another important announcement in this year’s budget is ‘Air Pollution Mitigation Action Plan’ (APMAP), with an allocation of Rs 25 crores. The initiative includes the installation of 14 air purifying towers across the city, this was pushed forward by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.
The 30 ft long towers will have the capacity to purify the air within a one-kilometer radius. The approximate cost of each tower will be around Rs 3.5 crore.
In addition, the civic body will be setting up air-purifying filters in five locations that records significant amount of carbon-footprint owing to heavy vehicular presence regular. There locations are: Dahisar Toll Naka, Mulund Check Naka, Mankhurd, Kalanagar Junction and Haji Ali Junction. Chahal said this will be a pilot project and these purifiers will have a maximum range of 50 meters.
Under this plan, BMC will also be setting up dedicated air-quality monitoring units at the ward level. The decision was triggered by the poor to very poor Air Quality Index (AQI) witnessed by the city this winter.
The previous budget allocated a sum of Rs 6,944 crore towards improving Mumbai’s health infrastructure in light of COVID-19 pandemic. However, the budget estimate for 2023-24 shows a 9% decrease, with 6,309 crore rupees dedicated to this sector. Officials have justified this reduction to the decrease in COVID-19 cases, resulting in lesser expenditure on constructing jumbo centers, purchasing medical supplies, and deploying additional medical personnel.
Late last year, BMC kicked off walk-in Non Communicable Disease (NCD) screening centres at 16 civic hospitals. These centres were aimed at those aged 30 and above. However, while presenting the budget, Chahal highlighted the findings of a recent survey conducted by the BMC. The survey revealed that 34% individuals had hypertension while in 18% were diagnosed with diabetes.
In light of these figures, the civic body has proposed a “programme of comprehensive care for Mumbaikars” called Arogyam Kutumbam. This programme with a budgetary provision of Rs 12 crore, builds upon the previous NCD screening centers and aims to screen 66 lakh individuals over the age of 30 in the first phase, beginning April 1st. The second phase will target individuals between the ages of 15 and 30.
Furthermore, the budget also has a provision of Rs 50 crore to double up the number of Hinduhrudaysamrat Balasaheb Thackarey (HBT) clinics, which are polyclinics functional from 9 am to 4pm .
As a push for public transport, BMC has allotted Rs 800 crore to Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST). The budget document mentions a separate section, Sustainable and Clean Transport Measures, and states, “Due to enormous increase in vehicle usage, on-road transportation remains a major contributor to air pollution. Thus, the city should focus on transport demand management to disincentivize private transport and shift the demand from low-occupancy private vehicles to high-occupancy shared vehicles, from fossil fuel-based vehicles to clean transport modes.”
Among other things, the civic body plans on achieving this by procuring 3,000 electric BEST buses. In his budget speech, Chahal announced the allocation of funds to BEST with the goal of supporting its functioning and improving its financial position. This allocation is aimed at facilitating structural reforms and reducing BEST’s dependence on assistance from the BMC in the near future.
Furthermore, the civic body will be providing an advance of Rs 1382.28 crore to BEST subject to the state government’s decision to treat this amount as a loan to the undertaking.
The civic body has slashed the budget for the Mumbai Fire Brigade by 38%. Last year, BMC had allocation Rs 366 crore to MFB but this year the civic body has decided to earmark Rs 227 crore. A substantial portion of the budget, Rs 176 crore will be dedicated to procuring machinery and other technical equipment while Rs 50.67 crore will be used for constructing fire stations at Thakur Village, Kandivali (East), LBS Road, Kanjur Marg (West), Juhu Tara Road Santacruz (West), Mahul Road Chembur and Amboli, Andheri (West).
An official told the Indian Express that the allocation is lower this year because there is no requirement for heavier equipment like fire-fighting bikes or turn table ladders. In the budget speech, Chahal said, “This year, we will be purchasing drones for fire-fighting and surveillance. Besides this, we have also floated tenders for procuring firefighting robots and seven rescue vehicles with hydraulic platform and aerial platform, for carrying out fire-fighting in congested areas.”
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