The rubber stamp position of the Shimla Municipal Corporation has clearly been exposed in its budget. The effect of outside agency funding has become visible after the Mayor of Shimla Kusum Sadret presented her second budget. Wherein year after year budgets are seen growing in outlay, the Shimla MC Budget has shown a negative trend. Last year the total budget outlay was around 355 crores, which has sinked down to 297 crores this year. Though the ruling party justifies that the budget outlay reduced because proposals under Smart city/World Bank financed projects have not found mention here. Agreeable justification, but likewise the ruling party also deliberately forgot to inform the city about the progress of works under these schemes and the ones resolved last year in their budget.
Wherein a few new welfare schemes have made news in the budget of the BJP led MC, but none referred to the root problems of the city. How much provision was increased ward wise for parking vehicles, is what the city is interested in knowing (Except Tutikandi and Lift parkings which came up after 10 years). Whether walking on the congested roads of the city was made relatively easier for pedestrians. How many overhead bridges came up in the past year and how many roads were widened, were the questions seeking answers. Whether more alternative means of transport are being planned for city, as driving in the city traffic is to entering a smoke filled hell. Most important, how many playground spaces were created in the city, is to be answered. To amaze this demand of kids has still not found any mention in the current budget. What good would be giving laptops to outstanding children of the city, when they would grow up half-bred without any game/sport in life? Without playgrounds and parks health of the city’s future is likely to get affected, which needed attention, but was not addressed. As all of this is part of either Smart city mission of AMRUT plans, and easily the house can shed from owing it. The house also did address, that whether in the light of the National Green tribunal (NGT) Judgment, smart city would move forward or not, and if not does one have an alternative plan?
The welfare schemes resolved this year are construction of new Town hall building, Nigam Rasoi Yojna (Free food for patients and attendants at hospital in the city), launch of 22 services online and adoption of sustainable development goals are a few important ones. But alas the required basic found no mention. Perhaps all these answers would now have to come through the courts of law like always.
The opposition has given mixed negative reactions over the budget. Former CPI(M) Mayor Sanjay Chauhan termed the budget a cut- paste of the last year. He alleged that nothing was done to complete the old projects first and even the new schemes have been announced without keeping a budgetary provision. Congress Councillor Archana Dhawan stated that this year budget was even weaker than its last year one, and the corporation has not thought anything about increasing its income.
Even as the opposition goes hard on the ruling, their stress too seems lacking while addressing the basics issues of town. On the other hand the ruling BJP while keeping an eye on the oncoming Lok Sabha is interested in creating GauRakha Kendra and doing free distribution of laptops but truly, without budgetary provisions. Though time will only tell; but this budget, though termed populist, lacks to deliver at the commoners’ doorsteps in Shimla.