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Nothing new in civic body's budget: Oppn
July, 31st 2009

Aamdani Athanni--Kharcha Rupayya' this was the reaction of corporators from opposition benches while ruling party benches called it the progressive budget prepared for the citizens, participating in a discussion on Nagpur Municipal Corporation's proposed budget worth Rs 869 crore tabled by standing committee chief Pravin Bhisikar recently in civic house.

Opposition corporators raised the issue that despite last year's income of Rs 462 crore from main resources like octroi (Rs 280 crore), property tax (Rs 115 crore), water tax (Rs 65 crore ) and market recovery (Rs 2.95 crore), Bhisikar has proposed the income of Rs 360 crore from octroi department, Rs 150 crore from property tax, Rs 115 crore from water tax, Rs 66.50 lakh from ADTP, Rs 5.10 crore from fire department, Rs 10 crore from advertisements and Rs 3.15 crore from health department. Most of the projects announced this year were already featured in past standing committee chief's budget.

"There is nothing new in the annual budget and has been drafted keeping an eye on the forthcoming state assembly election", they alleged.

However, the budget discussion was another victory for the ruling coalition as a fractured opposition failed to corner them for third consecutive year. The Opposition had a potent weapon: NMC's reluctance to reduce octroi. However, most of the Opposition corporators did not raise this issue in the House. They mostly harped on problems of their wards. Only Praful Gudadhe, Satish Hole, Sujata Kombade, Satish Deulkar made futile efforts to corner the ruling party over its negligence towards creating more revenue sources.

Lack of coordination in Opposition benches was evident right from the beginning. Praful Gudadhe, Sujata Kombade, Satish Hole raised different issues at different time but they could not formulate a concrete strategy to take on the ruling coalition.

Former mayor and a key speaker from opposition bench -- Vikas Thakre, from Kombade camp, who has a skill for effectively raising issues in the House, remained absent from the House which further dampened the spirit of the Opposition. This time, corporators from ruling benches Sanjay Bonde, Sudhir Raut, Prakash Totwani while favouring the budget preferred to discuss the issues of respective departments which they are presently handling.

The ruling coalition also took long breaks in the budget discussion as a result of which it continued till late night. Consequently, when the leader of Opposition rose to put forward his views on the budget, most of the corporators were half-asleep. BJP's strategy apparently worked well to pass the budget in house, sources added. Till filing of the report the discussion was going on in the civic house.

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