Monday, March 28, 2005

BMP plans leave citizens worried

BMP plans leave citizens worried

The Hindu

BANGALORE, MARCH 27. G.Y. Amarnath, a resident of Amarjyothinagar, feels this year's Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) budget is likely to burn a hole in his pocket.

He is afraid the civic body's new schemes — levy of infrastructure cess and solid waste management cess, property tax collection based on the capital value of the building and road widening using `transferable development rights' (TDR) — will take away half of his monthly pension.

Mr. Amarnath, a retired primary school teacher, managed to get a house constructed with a bank loan. "Besides the loan instalment, I also have other commitments. Though I do not know whether the road where I live has been identified for widening, the new levies will definitely be a burden on me," he says.

His is not a unique case. With the BMP all set to introduce these schemes through its budget that will be presented on Monday, citizens, especially pensioners are worried about how to pay the additional expenses.

Though the BMP had announced these schemes two months ago, they will be enforced only after the budget is presented.

While BMP officials claim that the new levies are slated to be nominal, citizens feel that the new levies are an "additional expenditure." The BMP expects to earn over Rs. 40 crores through these levies.

Delay

This time the presentation of the budget has been delayed by a month.

It was presented on February 21 last year. Unlike in the previous years, the BMP has not taken suggestions from the citizens before finalising the budget.

Though the budget estimates book has to be printed and circulated among the BMP Council members seven days in advance (as per the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act), the books have not been printed till late on Sunday evening.

Sources in the BMP told The Hindu that the budget envisages construction of new flyovers, railway under passes, subways, smart health cards for 20,000 poor families ensuring them free medical facilities in hi-tech hospitals, an effective garbage clearance system and more parks.

The Mayor's discretionary quota of Rs. 11.37 crores will be merged with the Rs. 10 crores Central Reserve Fund (CRF) and each of the 100 corporators will be allotted Rs. 2 lakhs annually for immediate redressal of civic and medical grievances of the citizens in their wards.

However, the 34 women corporators stand to lose this time because the special ward grants of Rs. 5 lakhs that each of them got is likely to be cancelled, the sources added.

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