Thursday, February 26, 2009

BBMP presents budget on the sly

BBMP presents budget on the sly

Top civic officials did not know that the budget was being presented

Media was kept in the dark and was invited only at the eleventh hour

Rohith BR and Bosky Khanna. Bangalore

Forget the lay Bangalorean, even top officials of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) themselves were not aware that the civic body would present its budget for 2009-10 on Wednesday.
Usually, the civic body alerts the media a day prior to the tabling of the budget.
But on Tuesday, the media was kept in the dark that the civic body's budget would be presented the next day.
In fact, DNA's efforts to get the Palike confirm when exactly it would table the budget failed to evince convincing replies.
But Wednesday dawned on the Palike in a feverish pace. Around 11 am, Palike public relations officer Bheemappa Khandre was asked to invite media over phone.
"Till 11 am I had no clue about the budget presentation," Khandre later admitted.
By the time the media gathered at the conference hall of Palike Head office at Hudson Circle it was past 12 noon and the presentation began.
Last year, the BBMP had organised a pre-budget discussion with former mayors and corporators.
This year, the city fathers were not just kept in the loop.
A furious former mayor M Ramachandrappa, who arrived at the BBMP head office on hearing about the budget presentation, said neither public nor public representatives had participated in the budget exercise. This year's budget is all about babudom, he alleged.
"The BBMP is printing fancy books on the budget. This year the number of such books has increased but there is nothing else in it for the people," he said.
When enquired why the budget was presented in a haste, officials in the BBMP said that they received an intimation from the government all of a sudden on Wednesday morning to go ahead with the budget presentation.
"The government wanted the budget to be presented today as there are chances of the Election Commission's code of conduct coming into force for the Lok Sabha elections anytime soon. Once the Election Commission's code is put in place we couldn't have gone ahead with the presentation," said an official.
Even senior Palike officials and heads of other civic agencies were unaware of the budget presentation on Wednesday.
This is despite the state government having set up the Agenda for Bangalore Infrastructure Development (ABIDe), a task force involving all civic agencies and civic experts under the chairmanship of the chief minister, to steer the city development.
"We didn't have any clue about the budget, and as members of the ABIDe, we do have some say in the Palike budget. We feel ignored," said a senior official from Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board.
Another official from the Bangalore Development Authority too expressed his displeasure over the issue.
When contacted for details on announced projects and allocations, the officials said they are yet to receive the budget copies and can comment only after that.
In the absence of an elected body for the Palike, the BBMP administrator, Dilip Rau, decides the date of budget presentation.
When DNA called up the administrator's office on Tuesday evening, an official had said they have not received any information about the budget presentation and they had not decided on the date and time.


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