In what may be the first such case, the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP combine in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday cleared the Rs 31,178-crore budget without even a discussion.
The budget was tabled before members at the beginning of the general body meeting and cleared amidst a ruckus by opposition parties which insisted on a discussion.
It was cleared in such a hurry that standing committee chairman Yashodhar Phanase did not even present the budget before the House, which is the normal practice.
"It has happened once before in 2009. But even in that year, the then standing committee chairman had presented the budget and made a speech. Friday's case is a disappointing trend," a former civic official , requesting anonymity, said.
As per norms, the budget (presented in February this year) is supposed to be cleared before March 20 every year, he said.
But given that Lok Sabha elections are due and code of conduct is in force, corporators, technically, could not discuss it due to an amendment the state government had made to the MMC Act, 1888, in 2010.
"According to this amendment, in case elections are held around the time of presenting/approving budget, the financial plan can be implemented from April 1 (beginning of the fiscal) and formal approval of members can be taken later. But in this case, unfortunately, no councilor was allowed to put forth issues in his/her ward," the official said. .
Lok Sabha polls took place in Mumbai on April 24, while the code of conduct set in on March 5.
Opposition leader Devendra Amberkar slammed the ruling party for "betraying the public" for the recent flooding owing to the alleged shoddy pre-monsoon work carried out by BMC and the railways. "There are so many monsoon-related issues we wanted to discuss. The BMC has allotted huge funds for carrying out the work. We had to face flooding. Who is going to be accountable for it? Discussion in this background would have guided financial plan for rest of the year. But the ruling combine have betrayed public," Amberkar, who led opposition parties in raising slogans against the mayor, said after opposition members boycotted proceedings.
MNS corporator Chetan Kadam and NCP group leader Dhananjay Pisal echoed Amberkar's views. "People have elected us to get their work done. But how do we get work done in such a scenario? There was no discussion on policy issues on health and education," Kadam reacted.
Mohsin Haider, Congress corporator from Andheri, claimed the budget was arbitrarily passed after some corporators, including the mayor and standing committee chairman, managed to get 'adequate' funds allotted for their wards.
"Why would the mayor allow discussion if he gets Rs 25 crore for his ward and the standing committee chairman gets Rs 10 crore ? This was a planned move," Haider claimed.
Mayor Sunil Prabhu refuted the allegations and claimed opposition members were politicising the issue. "We had taken all political parties into confidence," Prabhu told media persons.
"There was an urgent need to clear the budget as the code of conduct for assembly polls will come into force in a few months. We require lots of details on all civic work, or else no work can be undertaken. To avoid such a case, we approved the budget," Prabhu said.