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In Poll-bound 'Garbage City' Bengaluru, Budget Focuses on Waste Management

The BBMP has been repeatedly rebuked by the High Court for not decentralizing its composting units. On the other hand, opposition BJP, too, has upped the ante on the Congress government's failure on waste management.

Stacy Pereira | CNN-News18

Updated:February 28, 2018, 9:03 PM IST
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In Poll-bound 'Garbage City' Bengaluru, Budget Focuses on Waste Management
Image for representation only. (Reuters)
Bengaluru: With the issue of waste management in Bengaluru growing to become a thorn in the flesh for the ruling Congress, focus of the newly-rechristened Garbage City's Budget for the next financial year will mostly be on garbage disposal and waste management.

A much-chastised Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has decided to set aside over 11 percent or Rs 1,066 crore of its Budget for 2018-19 for scientific waste management. This will be the single biggest spending for the coming year.

The BBMP has been repeatedly rebuked by the High Court for not decentralizing its composting units. On the other hand, opposition BJP, too, has upped the ante on the Congress government's failure on waste management and planned a 15-day padyatra across all Assembly segments in the IT city, to take home this message to the voters.

With Assembly elections due in two months and Bengaluru accounting for a staggering 28 Assembly segments, the Congress is under pressure to show results here.

The BBMP's rather conservative Budget, presented on Wednesday, however, leaves much to be desired on other fronts. Many important sectors like that of health, education and lakes have got measly sums. Bengaluru's dying lakes have been allocated Rs 30 crore – to be shared between the 40 lakes identified for rejuvenation.

Paradoxically, maintenance of parks and improving greenery have also got an allocation of over Rs 200 crore – though the city's parks are relatively well-maintained compared to its lakes.

Among other allocations, 150 kilometre of city roads, too, will get a facelift through white topping as part of preliminary works for the overall development of the city at a cost of Rs 2,500 crore. This comes in the wake of the government facing much flak in the last monsoon, when over 16,000 potholes had surfaced in the 198 wards of the city, while bad roads claimed at least four lives.

Another ambitious project is to construct helipads at a cost of Rs 5 crore in all zones of the city to facilitate air ambulances.

What civic activists worry over is that when it comes to revenue receipts, the civic body's revenue generation is not up to the mark.

A major source of revenue comes in the form of property taxes and this year too, the BBMP has estimated to collect property tax and cess to the tune of Rs 3,317 crore. That aside, it will still depend on the central and state grants to execute most of its projects – nearly Rs 3,650 crores worth of projects will depend on the state government's mercy.

Janaagraha, a city-based civic NGO, says BBMP is far from self-sustaining.

"While the state government grants have provided a much-needed relief to the citizens, such dependence on state grants may not be sustainable. The state government would need to devolve revenue powers to BBMP and hold it accountable for delivery instead of providing for grants towards specific infrastructure works," Janaaagraha stated.

The NGO also pointed out that "out of the bills paid till February 2018, 81% pertained to pending or spillover bills, while only 19% pertained to the current year’s works.”

This shows that most of the budgetary allocations get spent on past bills while the current fiscal's works barely take off. A large number of works promised in the 2017-18 Budget are still yet to take off.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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