But many projects expected to make a repeat appearance

The city is plagued by many problems: deep craters, potholes, frequent flooding following downpour, poor footpaths and storm-water drains full of silt, to name a few.

The city’s first citizen D. Venkatesh Murthy is all set to present the 2013-14 budget on Friday. So, what can citizens expect from the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP’s) latest budget?

Nothing, say ruling party (BJP) councillors.

Senior councillors from the Bharatiya Janata Party, still upset with the government permitting the Mayor to present the budget, say that the budget will only have ward grants, spillover works and grants for the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and chairpersons of 12 standing committees.

‘A realistic budget’

A councillor, who spoke to The Hindu on condition of anonymity, expected the outlay to be Rs. 8,000 crore given the government’s directive to the Mayor to present a “realistic budget”. This is nearly Rs. 2,000 crore less than last year’s much-derided Rs. 9,937-crore outlay.

BBMP Commissioner M. Lakshminarayan said the draft prepared by the administration was around Rs. 6,500 crore, based on revenue generation. The BBMP’s priority was to improve road conditions, implement zero garbage programme in all wards, improve storm-water drains and implement the projects approved by the government. These priorities have been communicated to the Mayor, he said.

‘No new projects’

However, a BJP councillor conceded many projects were expected to make a repeat appearance in this year’s budget. Stating that there were no new projects, the councillor mentioned multi-purpose and multi-storeyed parking lots, signal-free corridors and overall development of the 110 villages in the newly added zones.

Another confessed that it would also include the projects frozen after being deemed unnecessary by the Technical Vigilance Cell under the Commissioner. These projects, taken up with funds sanctioned from the grants of Mayor, Deputy Mayor and chairpersons of 12 standing committees, were frozen by the former Commissioner Siddaiah much to the councillors’ chagrin.

Heartburn over grants

While city in-charge Minister Ramalinga Reddy seemed to be pushing for the reduction in the quantum of grants for Mayor and Deputy Mayor, sources rubbished it. Mr. Reddy reportedly wanted the Mayor’s grant to be brought down to Rs. 50 crore from Rs. 150 crore, and Deputy Mayor’s grant to Rs. 10 crore from Rs. 25 crore. “While the grants have not been reduced, those allocated to the city in-charge Minister have been increased from Rs. 135 crore to around Rs. 150 crore. That apart, each MLA (of the 27 Assembly constituencies under the BBMP) will get Rs. 5 crore. Why should the BBMP provide grants to the MLAs,” the source asked.

Many firsts

This year’s budget will see many firsts. To begin with, Mayor D. Venkatesh Murthy will become the first citizen in the history of the civic body to present a budget. This, many councillors alleged, is the result of “Kuruba politics”.

Mr. Murthy and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah both belong to the politically forward Kuruba community. Usually, the honour goes to the chairperson of the standing committee for taxation and finance.

Another first is that the budget is being presented in the month of Ashada, considered inauspicious. Previous budgets were presented after Ashada.

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