Funds allocation for Bengaluru infrastructure touches 4-year low

BENGALURU: The city’s investment in infrastructure development in the current financial year is the lowest in the past four years, a pointer to the dire financial position of the state government.

At Rs 860 crore, funds released by the government to BBMP for special infrastructure projects so far this year are a little over 40% of the Rs 2,129 crore provided during 2016-17 by the then Siddaramaiah-led Congress government. Such projects include laying new roads, building flyovers and drains.

In 2017-18, the city unsurprisingly got a bumper gift of Rs 2,946 crore as the state headed to polls in May 2018. The year also saw the launch of many projects including the brand new Church Street. Soon after HD Kumaraswamy took over as chief minister of the JD(S)-Congress government in 2018, he released Rs 1,730 crore for Bengaluru in a message that the crop loan waiver programme would not affect the city’s projects.

Ironically, it was chief minister BS Yediyurappa who introduced the concept of supporting city infrastructure development a decade ago with special assistance called CM’s Nagarothana scheme.

However, cutting to the present, many factors are said to have led to the stalling of infrastructure projects and non-release of funds, especially in the last six months of the BJP regime. The chief minister has been battling an acute financial crisis since the time he took over, and he even made a bold statement about this in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently. The Centre, for instance, owes Karnataka GST compensation of about Rs 3,600 crore for October and November, and each instance of delay is aggravating the state’s finances.

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The BBMP, however, maintains that the actual release of money from the government depends on the action plan under implementation. Since the new dispensation has asked it to revise the action plan drawn up by its predecessor, it is reflecting on the release of funds.

“We are reworking the action plan. In fact, we had tendered many projects but they had to be cancelled as they don’t figure in the revised plan. That led to a drop in the release of funds,” BBMP commissioner BH Anil Kumar said. The projects will gain momentum from February and make up for the lost time, he added.

The progress of projects also matters, as a Congress MLA from the city said. He blamed the BBMP for its lack of supervision which, according to him, has led to the poor progress of projects under implementation. The release of funds from the government is linked to the project status. “Nobody is monitoring the progress of projects. That we don’t have a full-fledged minister for Bengaluru is hurting the city’s progress,” he opined.

Both while taking oath as chief minister and later in his Independence Day address, Yediyurappa swore to transform Bengaluru into a second Silicon Valley. On completing 100 days in office in November, the chief minister had promised to bring a visible change in the city’s infrastructure in the next three months, but that is yet to take shape.



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