City budget gets focal points from public right, not details

The city budget’s focal points seem to be largely in tune with inputs received during the first-ever public consultation campaign, but it lacks the detailing and specific demands raised. Very little of what citizens demanded in solid waste management, drinking water and pedestrian facilities have been incorporated in the budget, while inputs in road and infrastructure have mostly found space.

The BBMP had partnered with Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy for the #MyCityMyBudget campaign and had garnered over 67,000 inputs from the public.

For instance, the campaign saw over 10,000 inputs for pedestrian facilities. While the city budget set aside ₹200 crore for developing footpath on 200-km-long road network, Sapna Karim from Janaagraha, who led the campaign, said the allocation for pedestrian facilities did not match the demand.

Though the budget allocated almost 10% of its outlay for solid waste management, it only incorporated 0.4% of the public inputs, that essentially demanded dry waste collection centres and garbage processing centres at wards.

This year’s budget was marked by renewed focus on trees, parks and lakes, largely in tune with public inputs. Public inputs however, had little focus on lakes. Another success area has been public toilets, that has seen an almost matching grant. Drinking water had emerged as a major concern for citizens, with 4% of the inputs pertaining to water facilities. However, only 1.6% was part of the budget.

Ms. Karim said the challenge ahead was to factor in the specific inputs provided by people on the ground, while preparing the programme of works for each ward. “We have prepared ward-wise reports and submitted them to the engineers. Public consultation for the budget was a great step, but can be effective only if followed through,” she said.

M.K. Gunashekhar, chairman, standing committee on taxation and finance, BBMP, said though public consultation was a guiding force, it could not be the only rule for budget allocations.

“Public speak only about service utilities and not the back end infrastructure. For instance, this year’s budget has huge focus on education and social welfare, which do not figure as sub-categories in the public inputs,” he said adding that at the ward level too councillors were best placed to take a call on programme of works. “The public inputs we have gathered can, however, act as a good feedback channel for what people want,” he said.

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 8:30:18 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/city-budget-gets-focal-points-from-public-right-not-details/article17760129.ece