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Amid Delay in Local Body Elections, BMC Presents Budget 2023

The estimates for the year are 14.52 percent higher than the 2022-23 amount of Rs 45,949 crore.

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As uncertainty looms large around the elections for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the civic body on Saturday, 4 February, presented Rs 52,619.07 crore budget for the year 2023-24.

The estimates for the year are 14.52 percent higher than the 2022-23 amount of Rs 45,949 crore.

While the budgetary estimates crossed the Rs 50,000 crore-mark for the first time, this is also the first time since 1985 that the Budget was presented to administrator Iqbal Singh Chahal, as the term of the corporators ended in March last year.

Some key highlights of the Budget:

  • Rs 3,545 crore have been allocated for the Coastal Road project

  • Rs 1,060 crore are earmarked for the Goregaon-Mulund Link Road

  • Rs 2,825 crore for traffic operations and roads projects

  • The actual capital expenditure of Rs 8,398.35 crore is incurred up to December 2022, which is 40.26 per cent of the revised estimates for FY 22-23

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Why Have the Elections Been Delayed?

Factors like delimitation of wards in Mumbai and OBC reservations in Maharashtra local bodies have caused delay in BMC elections.

What's the Delimitation Issue? In 2021, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, initiated the delimitation process and increased the of electoral wards from 227 to 236.

But, in August 2022, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde's government issued an ordinance to reinstate these wards to 227. On 8 September, the ordinance was made into an Act.

Former corporator Raju Pednekar, moved to Bombay High Court challenging Shinde government's decision to reverse the delimitation of wards.

Pednekar, who is a former corporator belonging to the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), had also urged the High Court to to declare the government’s decision as being against the Constitution, and null and void, reported The Indian Express.

He also urged that the State Election Commission (SEC) to conduct the BMC elections based on delimitation conducted by the MVA government, the report added.

Since a decision on this case from the High Court is still pending, the Maharashtra government has assured the court that it won’t proceed with the delimitation process for BMC election till further orders.

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What is the OBC issue? The Supreme Court, in 2021, passed an order stating that states can only provide OBC reservations in local bodies after fulfilling the 'Triple Test'.

The Triple Test is a step-by-step procedure that a state government has to carry out before the OBCs can be granted quotas in the civic polls.

These three steps are:

  1. Set up a dedicated commission to conduct contemporaneous rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of the backwardness qua local bodies, within the state. 

  2. Specify the proportion of reservation required to be provisioned local body wise in light of recommendations of the commission, so as not to fall foul of over-breadth. 

  3. In any case such reservation shall not exceed aggregate of 50 percent of the total seats reserved in favour of SCs/STs/OBCs taken together.

In the view of the Supreme Court order, the then MVA government had set up a commission led by former chief secretary Jayant Banthia and asked him to collate data as sought by the court, reported The Hindu.

The commission submitted its report on 7 July, after which the Shinde government had moved the court for permission to hold elections to local bodies introducing the OBC quota, the report added.

This process also added up in the delay of the local body elections in the state.

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Topics:  BMC 

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