Rs 1-cr Bal Thackeray memorial plan draws flak
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A Rs 1-crore proposal to construct an international-level memorial for the late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray using public funds has drawn criticism of corporators from other political parties.
BMC's Budget for 2013-14 presented on February 4 did not earmark funds for the memorial. Following fresh recommendations by the civic body's standing committee after the budget discussion, changes entailing an additional expenditure of Rs 215 crore were incorporated. One of the 13 items in the new proposal relates to the allocation of Rs 1 crore for the memorial.
The standing committee has 27 members and is chaired by Shiv Sena's Rahul Shewale. The changes were later approved by the Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte.
"This money can be put to better use. There is a lack of even basic civic amenities due to fund crunch. While the Shiv Sena-led BMC has approved such a fund allocation, even the Congress is patronising the issue a memorial for Bal Thackeray," said Rais Shaikh, Samajwadi Party corporator and standing committee member. "The proposal was in fine print along with other amendments announced by the committee chairman. Most members were not paying attention and did not get an opportunity to object," he added.
"BMC should concentrate on allocating funds for basic civic amenities. Instead, they are trying to win votes by constructing memorials. Ideally, a political party is free to construct memorial for its leaders, but it should not do so at the cost of the public exchequer," said Mohsin Haider, Congress corporator and Improvement Committee member.
A civic official said unlike other proposals that are tabled in the standing committee with details sent earlier to all members, the new additions to BMC Budget were not sent to anyone. "Typically, we get time to study and prepare arguments in case we do not agree to a proposal. In this case, we were not given prior notice," said Shaikh.
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