HYDERABAD: The GHMC on Tuesday approved a Rs 5,600-crore budget for 2021-22, in its first-ever Council meeting held online due to the pandemic. Though the budget was approved by Mayor Gadwal R. Vijayalaskhmi, the meeting drew dissent from Opposition corporators for not giving them time to speak on the budget.
Opposition members raised public grievances which were unaddressed over the years and objected to the allocation of funds and their expenditure. Corporators alleged that the civic officials ignored key initiatives like improving the sanitation, allocation of funds for slum development, malaria and dengue eradication among several others. A corporator alleged that the GHMC spent only about Rs 7 crore for dengue and malaria eradication of the Rs 10 crore given by the state government.
After assuming charge on February 11, the first GHMC council meeting was held virtually from 10.30 am followed by its first ordinary meeting. As many as 156 members including corporators and ex-officio members participated. It was not streamed live to mediapersons.
The meeting began with the swearing-in of Lingojiguda Congress corporator Darpally Rajashekar Reddy, who took oath in the presence of the Mayor and new TPCC president A. Revanth Reddy. Speaking on the occasion, Revanth Reddy expressed displeasure over the works taken up on the catchment areas of the Musi and said they were ill-planned.
Describing Hyderabad as the heart of Telangana, Revanth Reddy said the state would do good only when the city did good. He lambasted the government for not taking steps to safeguard nalas, prevent and remove encroachments on them. These encroachments were the prime causes for the flash floods which occurred in October last year, he said.
The TPCC chief said the corporation never took measures to improve the stormwater networks. "While the police have installed CCTV cameras in every nook and corner to curtail crime, why is the GHMC not installing CCTV cameras at nalas and water bodies to save them from the encroachments," he asked.
Gudimalkapur corporator Devara Karunakar (BJP, Gudimalkapur) asked why the corporation had allocated Rs 306 crore for planting saplings (Haritha Haram), for which there was little accounting when was no money given for slum development. He also pointed out that the GHMC said it had borrowed Rs 1,224 crore for the 2BHL project while GHMC commissioner D.S. Lokesh Kumar has put the figure at Rs 1,039 crore.
Mehdipatnam corporator Mohammed Majid Hussain said that authorities did not submit data of the actual amounts spent during the previous financial year. He said authorities did not utilise the funds properly and the allocations on the operational and maintenance works including sanitation were not up to the mark.
He said that the GHMC had removed garbage bins and hired additional vehicles to carry away the garbage. Despite an increase in garbage generation, the GHMC cut down the provision for additional vehicles to Rs 75 crore from Rs 150 crore.
He said that the government had allocated about Rs 10 crore to the entomology wing for dengue and malaria eradication programmes, but the GHMC had spent Rs 2.78 crore for malaria and for dengue Rs 4.46 crore. This works out to rs 2.78 per citizen for malaria eradication and Rs 4.45 for dengue eradication. “This means the corporation has spent the cost of one anti-mosquito coil for a whole year," he added.
Uppal corporator M. Rajitha (Congress) said the party did not get time either to speak on the Budget or public related issues. Condemning the virtual meeting, she asked why there were Covid-19 protocols in place only for the GHMC corporators but not Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and minister K.T. Rama Rao. "Why is the government running away when asked to address the public grievances? We demand that the government hold a physical meeting but not virtual meetings for effective and accountable administration," she added.
Meanwhile, the size of the budget is marginally up by the revised estimate of Rs 5,600 crore. The GHMC expects about Rs 1,850 crore, which is about 32 per cent of the total budget, from property tax receipts. About 22 per cent (Rs 1,224 crore) will be mobilised through loans. And Rs 1,022 crore is expected to come from user charges and other fees. It expects about `Rs crore through grants.
The GHMC panel said it would get Rs 190 crore from the fee collected from people for regularising their properties. Nearly 25 per cent of the GHMC's budget would be spent on development of roads and footpaths. It allocated Rs 360 crore for the green budget. The civic body recently passed a resolution, making it mandatory to spend at least 10 per cent of its budget for various greenery initiatives.