Vision 2030: A Happy Mumbai

Speedy commute, pure water and improved health services are among the plans unveiled in the budget to improve the ‘citizens happiness index’

BMC commissioner Praveen Pardeshi presented this year’s civic budget, with a focus on improving the happiness quotient among citizens. The civic chief unveiled his vision of Mumbai 2030 to transform Mumbai into a happy and developed city. Introducing the term, ‘citizens happiness index’, Pardeshi said it can be achieved by delivery of efficient civic services such as speedy commute, pure water, quality of education, health, gardens, good roads and participatory and inclusive governance.

The budgetary provision of Rs 33,441 crore made this year saw an increase of Rs 2,748 crore from the last fiscal. While no new taxes have been imposed, there is a five per cent increase in service charges for things like licences and birth certificates, an increase after 15 years.

Commenting on the happiness index, Pardeshi said that it can be achieved as the civic body is aiming to reduce the commuting time by improving the average speed of commute from 20 kmph to 40 kmph. “Coastal Road, GMLR and providing missing links will offer solution to commuters by efficiently improving average speed of commute,” he said.

Under the comprehensive mobility plan 2017, eight missing links with total length of 7.94 km have been identified. Some of the missing links are Mahim-Sion Link Road to KK Krishna Menon Marg in Dharavi, Ahilya Bai Holkar Marg to Lotus Colony Road, GR Varaskar Marg to Western Express Highway.

The other major thrust is on making the city climate resilient and pollution free by providing maximum public transport and increasing share of passengers in public bus transport from the current 15 per cent to 25 per cent. This will be achieved by giving a fillip to the beleaguered BEST and increasing the operation of wet lease buses from 231 to 1,240.

Tourism will also get a boost with the BMC planning to organise trips to waterbodies like Tansa lake and Vaitarna dam.

Ward officers have been granted independent powers to tender projects upto Rs 3.5 lakh. With this financial delegation, they can prioritise issues based on citizens’ demands and the local corporator’s suggestions. The civic body has also made a provision of Rs 2 crore for taking preventive measures to control novel coronavirus, at Kasturba Hospital in Chinchpokli.

Earning revenue

The BMC, the richest municipal corporation in the country, which is facing a revenue crunch, also aims to earn revenue from property taxes as it has outstanding dues of Rs 15,000 crore. “For the first time we are attaching properties, disconnecting water supply,” said Pardeshi.

The BMC will target those whom they intend to recover property taxes from. As of January 2020, 1,237 properties have been attached. This drive has resulted in a 84 per cent rise in collection compared to the same period last year.

“The second source of revenue will be from development premium. As many flat owners and commercial establishments have not paid FSI for spaces like lofts, flower beds, ventilation shafts etc, many of them can be regularised by paying an additional amount of fungible FSI. As many face harassment from locals for the illegality, they will be happy to pay and regularise it and in the process the city gains a regulated structure,” he said.

The third major source of earning revenue is from unutilised municipal long term lease properties. “The lease rates are frozen and we are not going to change that. But if your lease was for residential and you are running a commercial establishment, the lease condition has to be changed,” he said.

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