BMC elections 2017: Polling for the cash-rich as well as prestigious Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation got underway this morning with estranged allies BJP and Shiv Sena at the forefront of this battle of might. 2275 candidates are in the fray for 227 municipal wards of the Asia’s one of the largest civic bodies. Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has said the civic body was fully prepared to hold the election across 227 electoral wards through 7304 polling booths at 1582 places. Out of 91,80,491 registered voters, 50,30,361 are male, 49,49,749 female and 381 transgenders. For the BJP, the stakes are high for the polls as it is pitted against its alliance partner, the Shiv Sena on its home turf of Mumbai. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has led a high-octane campaign to capture power at the country’s richest civic body and attacked the Uddhav Thackeray-led party relentlessly during the campaigning. All eyes will be on the outcome as it may throw up psephological surprises. Counting will take place on February 23. Take a look at principal issues that have hit the headlines.
1. BJP-Shiv Sena- friends or foe?
The focal point of this election is the equation between estranged allies BJP and Shiv Sena. They have decided to fight the elections on their own. Given the current context, the outcome of these polls will have serious ramifications in run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections and Maharastra Assembly elections. Political slugfest had erupted between these two parties, with both taking frequent potshots at each other over an array of issues. The infighting in National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has provided a shot in the arm of opposition. So, this elections are very much crucial and the results could change the political landscape of the country.
Watch this video
2. The budget
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which is India’s richest civic body, has announced its budget for the year 2016-17. It is said that budget of the civic body is bigger than several small states of the country. Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta presented the first budget, since taking charge in April last year, before the standing committee members. The total size of the budget is Rs 37,052cr which is much higher than last year’s budget of Rs 33,514cr.
Big projects like the ambitious Mumbai Coastal Road was seen getting a further push in the civic budget. A budget provision of Rs 1000 crore is proposed for the work of Mumbai coastal road. Apart from it a provision of 130 crores has been made for the east west connector Goregoan Mulund Link Road. The BMC has allocated Rs 12874 crores for the capital expenditure that is spending on development projects for betterment of the city infrastructure like roads, storm water drains and water projects. The BMC proposes a budget provision of Rs 10 crores as its share towards Smart City project.
Earlier in 2016, in a bid to prepare a road map for the mega-city and upgrade its public transport, the BMC came up with a comprehensive mobility plan that envisages an integrated fare structure and Common Ticketing System (CTS). It is believed that if the plan been implemented, it can provide a far smoother travelling experience to the city’s commuters. This plan was submitted to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for feedback. The transportation strategy plan was charted in three phases — short term (till 2019), medium term (till 2024) and long term (till 2034).
4. Water conservation
Water scarcity has always topped the charts as Mumbai’s problems. The western metropolis has been reeling under a 20% water cut owing to a poor monsoon since 2015. However, it has been getting an additional 255 million litres daily (MLD) of water from August, 2016. While this appears to be a very small amount compared to Mumbai’s normal normal water supply of 4,200 MLD (down to 3,750 MLD after water cuts), areas like Mira Road-Bhayander receive 96 MLD of water daily owing to a 36-hour water cut every week, while sub-urban Mumbai neighbourhood, Thane gets 320 MLD of water supply daily after the cuts. According to senior civic officials, the additional 255 MLD of water will be brought from lake-tapping, thereby improving the existing water distribution network in the catchment areas and setting up recycling facilities at water treatment plants. A previous lake-tapping experiment on the Vaitarna system in 2014 failed. However, the civic body’s latest investment succeeded in August 2015.
5. Education- Mixing work with play
Ensuring that school children get adequate area for playing in a city that lacks empty spaces, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) proposed to keep 40 per cent mandatory area for playground from the available area on which educational institutions are set up. This provision was included for the first time, by the civic body in its draft Development Control Regulations (DCR). According to the regulation, if an institution decides to initiate any educational development on their vacant plot, it should provide 40 per cent of the plot area from their total area; for a playground. The sorry state of affairs for many schools and colleges across Mumbai is that they do not have the playgrounds which the children deserve. As per the regulations, further it said that if the existing open area is less than 40 per cent of the total area, an additional Floor Space Index (FSI) will be sanctioned without further reducing the open area and without increasing the base area. Rather, it can be done by ensuring the structural stability of the building.
6. Aarey issue
The activists of Aarey Conservation Group who are opposing proposed tree-felling for the Metro car-shed in the Aarey Colony, today urged the citizens not to vote for BJP, alleging that the party was not giving assurance to save the greenery in this leafy area of North Mumbai. Activists, led by AAP leader Preeti Sharma-Menon, Stalin D of the NGO Vanshakti and others, had launched a campaign ahead of tomorrow’s civic elections in Mumbai, asking every political party to clarify its stand on protecting the trees in the Aarey Colony. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had agreed to look at alternative venues for car-shed for Metro-3 and had also stated that it was not a prestige issue, she said.
However, Menon alleged, BJP had not given any commitment to save the trees in the Aarey Colony. Congress and NCP conceptualised the Metro project (when they were in power) but now, buckling under public pressure, they too had committed to oppose Metro in Aarey, while CPI and Republican Sena too had pledged to save Aarey, she said.
7. Voting percentage
As Mumbai is known for the voter apathy, the BMC had appealed to the voters to come out in large numbers and cast vote. “We are ready to help you exercise your franchise. Please take part in this democratic process on Tuesday from 7.30 am to 5.30 pm and cast your vote,” the Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta said in a statement.
The BJP is expecting at least 55 per cent voter turnout in tomorrow’s Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections and has appointed one person per
200 voters to ensure they exercise their franchise. “Mumbai unit of the BJP has decided to appoint one booth level party worker behind 200 voters. The party worker
is asked to concentrate on his or her 200 voters alone. Our worker will ensure that all the 200 voters will vote and they will report to their seniors accordingly,” the BJP chief
spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said today.
It has been learned that a few celebrities who may not vote this year due to their busy schedule. Take a look
Aamir Khan – outdoor, Hrithik Roshan – outdoor, Anupam Kher – CapeTown, Rishi Kapoor – Hongkong, Javed Shabana – banglore, Arjun Kapoor – London, Sanjay Dutt – Agra, Ajay Devgn – Jodhpur, Emraan Hashmi – jodhpur, Dia Mirza – outdoor shoot, Saif Ali Khan – Delhi, Kangana Ranaut – Delhi, Akshay Kumar – Bhopal, Priyanka chopra – USA.
8. Stringent security apparatus
Mumbai police have thrown a tight security cover across the city as part of arrangements for the smooth conduct of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections. “Police are maintaining a strong vigil to avert any untoward incident during polls in city as there are 7,297 polling centres, which include 726 sensitive centres. Besides, 159 pockets of the city are declared as sensitive. Police bandobast has also been done at vital installations the city,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Ashok Dudhe said today.
Video-recording of the poll process will be done at sensitive booths, he said. Police have enforced CrPC’s section 144 (prohibitory orders) in the vicinity of 100 metres of the polling centres, where there will be restrictions on non-voters. At least 17 FIRs and 59 non-cognisable offences of violation of code of conduct were registered in city since the poll notification, the police spokesman said. Preventive action was taken against 3,000 people and 125 persons were externed from the city. Nearly 1,100 preventive arrests made by police during the period. Besides, 844 warrants were issued and 185 cases registered for sale of illicit liquor, Dudhe said.