The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) or the city’s civic body on Monday presented a ₹10,688.63 crore budget, that aims to address the inadequate infrastructure as well as some of the more pressing needs of India’s technology capital, that has been begging for bare minimum of amenities.
The budget breaching the ₹10,000 crore mark as against ₹9,326.87 crore presented in the corresponding year, registering an increase of 14%.
The budget presented on Monday has an outlay of ₹4,945.91 crore for developmental works that includes roads, flyovers and other major works as well as ₹1,186.80 crore for garbage disposal and solid waste management among other big ticket allocations.
“Bengaluru city infuses highest financial contribution to the exchequers of State and Central Government; in turn Bengaluru needs financial assistance to develop basic infrastructural facilities to see overall growth and development," S.P. Hemalatha, the chairperson of the tax and finance standing committee said during her address. She became the first woman to present the budget in BBMP’s history.
The budget also set aside ₹1,071.43 crore or over 10% for welfare schemes apart from other allocations that, analysts said was more to do with the upcoming elections than for the betterment of the city.
Similar to the state level alliance, the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) joined hands in the BBMP to deny the BJP a chance at power at the civic body. The alliance is hoping that its budget would help it earn some favour with Bengaluru’s disgruntled voters to make some dent in the three parliamentary seats of the city, which has been dominated by the BJP at least for the last two terms.
"We have also focussed on improving city's liveability. We shall be installing air purifiers and drinking water units across the city. More trees shall be planted to improve the city's green cover. Funds have also been allocated for rejuvenation of lakes #BBMPBudget," G.Parameshwara, deputy chief minister and Bengaluru district in-charge wrote on Twitter.
The thought of air purifiers in Bengaluru, that was earlier known as garden city, emphasising the dip in quality of life for its residents who are forced to remain outdoors due to unmanageable traffic for longer durations on pothole laden roads, inhaling toxic qualities of air and dust due to eroding green cover, frothing lakes as well as uncleared garbage piles.
Also the state capital, Bengaluru, with its thriving start-up, IT and aviation ecosystems, acts as the gateway into Karnataka attracting foreign investments. But like most other unplanned and uncontrolled urban centres in the country, infrastructure has not kept pace with its growth in Bengaluru, that generates over half of the state’s revenues.
The H.D.Kumaraswamy government has revived several big ticket projects like Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) and elevated corridor after over a decade since they were first mooted, to resolve the traffic problems. Apart from escalated costs, that now runs in several thousand crores, the ‘solutions’ now facing a stiff resistance by home-owners, citizens and environmentalists who argue that such measures will not solve the problems of the city.
"While expenditure is listed in detail, outcomes and goals are vague in many cases. For each item of the Budget, it would be a useful guide to know what goal is expected to be achieved, which can then be used to judge whether the expenditure is successful or not," said Ashwin Mahesh, an urban infrastructure expert and member of the city's planning taskforce.
The inefficiency in resolving the most basic issues for its over 10 million strong population often makes the BBMP a target for angry and frustrated residents, who have taken it upon themselves to solve its own problems than wait for the authorities to take notice or action.
Like other fast growing urban centres, Bengaluru's already inadequate public infrastructure has also been under intense pressure as it remains the destination of choice for job seekers--both blue and white collar--and other sections of society.
“Given the slow pace of contracts and weaknesses in design and implementation, it will be better to make a smaller budget that is more achievable each year," Mahesh said in a statement.