The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC)'s ambitious plan to take up the city ‘beautification' is inviting criticism from various quarters, including the ruling Congress and mainly from the employees.
Their prime contention is that the officials have neither taken prior approval for the works from the Standing Committee nor have made sufficient budgetary provisions. The Corporation' finances are already precarious, and for the last one year it has been finding it difficult to make both ends meet. The employees grumble that they were being paid salaries at the fag end of every month.
The Corporation has so far executed works worth Rs. 50 crore without budgetary sanction. Though the works were reportedly completed, information was not placed before the Standing Committee for its prior approval. Of this Rs. 50 crore, beautification works alone amount to Rs. 10 crore. These works have either been completed or are in progress, official sources say.
The beautification works include construction of floating fountains, paving of footpaths and erection of exquisite street lights. The VMC spent Rs. 6 lakh on each floating fountain and it incurs a recurring expenditure of about Rs. 500 a day on electricity and maintenance. Likewise, it spent Rs. 5 lakh on modern central lighting and Rs. 6 lakh for paving new footpaths near VMC main office. The Corporation has plans to take up beautification works in a similar fashion on the bunds of the three canals passing through the city and the bridges across the canals, officials say.
Senior Congress leaders, who do not wanted to be quoted, feel that “wasteful expenditure” is going on in the Corporation, and priorities and immediate necessities have been sidelined. Public health, development of slums and payment of salaries to employees and workers on time should be on top of the VMC priority list, they assert, pointing out that the Corporation has to spend about Rs. 4 crore a month on salaries alone.
Former Mayor Tadi Sakuntala says the VMC should take up more useful and productive works. Though fountains, footpaths and fashionable street lights enhance the beauty of the city, construction of retaining wall, stairways in hilly areas, construction and repair of school buildings and urban health centres would go a long way in developing the city.
A proposal she made for construction of a building for an urban health centre is still pending in her division. The proposal has been pending since 2006, she points out.