Continuing its trend of clearing proposals worth crores of rupees at the eleventh hour, the standing committee of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has approved works to the tune of Rs1,800 crore.
On Wednesday, the committee took a decision to use public money approving 68 proposals in an hour and a half. Last Friday, the panel had approved proposals worth over Rs1,000 crore in an hour.
A major chunk of the fund allotment was made for road works (Rs1,200 crore) and also for appointment of consultant for a coastal road. The storm water drain (SWD) department's proposals worth Rs400 crore, including Rs160 crore for Gazdhar Bandh pumping station work, were also approved. The BMC is set to spend around Rs200 crore for maintenance of gardens.
For the second time in a week, there was no stiff opposition to the way proposals were cleared during the meeting. Opposition leaders only took potshots at the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP combine on the sidelines of the meeting.
"We received 43 proposals late on Tuesday night. So, we had no time to discuss them. The ruling parties brought the proposals in view of the elections. When it had all the time in the world, the allies could spend only around 23 per cent of the capital expenditure. Now, they have cleared use of mammoth proposals to fool the common man ahead of polls," said Devendra Amberkar, opposition leader.
Committee chairman Rahul Shewale, however, claimed that the proposals were not cleared in view of polls, but keeping monsoon in mind. "We want to improve the city roads before monsoon and also ensure that drains are cleaned in time. We have approved the much-awaited proposal for developing the Gazdhar Bandh pumping station. The approvals were very much required. We have not fooled anyone," Shewale said and added that the BMC was giving all the required attention to the coastal road project.
Meanwhile, civic activists lambasted the corporation taking decisions on public money without any discussion.
Nikhil Desai, who resides in King's Circle, the south-central parliamentary constituency from where Shewale is likely to contest polls, said: "Shewale did not push for clearing public works proposals in time. But now that elections are approaching, the panel led by him is clearing them in a hurry. Their actions show that they want to clear proposals before the code of conduct is in force. They have nothing to do with public welfare."