CHENNAI: Chennai Corporation Commissioner and Special Officer Prakash Govindasami passed the civic body’s annual budget on Monday. The Rs 46-crore deficit budget which projects total expenditure at Rs 5744 crore for the 2019-2020 financial year, proposes to improve the City’s lighting, bridge connectivity, safety of women and mitigate flooding.
A whopping Rs 171 crore has been allocated to install a remote monitoring system for the city’s 2.8 lakh LED streetlights and to complete cabling works at one go. “This system will monitor the functioning of the entire city’s lights from one screen and will enable dimming of lights when required, to save energy and cut electricity costs,” said Prakash, explaining that other corporations which have implemented this system, are reaping rich benefits.
Claiming that bridges are important to any city, Commissioner Prakash said that the Corporation intends to clear old bridge projects and improve connectivity in the city. Work is expected to begin on the Elephant Gate Road and Stephenson Road Otteri Nullah bridge. In addition to this, construction of six bridges over the Buckingham Canal along the East Coast Road and three bridges over the Puzhal surplus canal in North Chennai, is expected to start this year.
“The major roads in the city are in good condition so we are going to train our attention to the tier two roads in extended areas,” Prakash said, explaining that a sum of Rs 537 crore has been allocated towards construction and relaying of interior and bus route roads.
A wide range of projects improving the safety of women in the city, is going to be taken up at the cost of around Rs 100 crore. This includes augmentation of the existing 181 woman helpline by integrating an app, and mapping crime in the city and installation of smart poles in 617 crime hotspots in the city. “We want to bring down the police response time to 5 minutes using technology and coordinating with other departments,” said Govinda Rao, Deputy Commissioner (Works).
In addition to improving the safety of women, the corporation has also invested heavily in making the city safe from flooding. With the corporation having begun work in the Kovalam Basin and ready to begin storm water drain work at the Kosasthalaiyar Basin, a sum of Rs 270 crore has been allocated in the budget. “We are planning an early flood warning system which monitors reservoir levels and canal levels in real time to reduce damage to life and property,” said Prakash.
The Corporation, which currently has around 600 parks in the city, has proposed to add an additional 200 parks at a cost of Rs 53 crore under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, Swadesh Darshan scheme and Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust.Seventh pay commission diminishes effect of increased property tax
The increased property tax collection pegged at Rs 1350 crore with the hike in property tax rates last year, is still unable to end the Corporation’s streak of deficit budgets. This is primarily because of the implementation of the seventh pay commission for all staff which takes the salary expenditure to Rs 1739 crore. “We are among the few states to implement the seventh pay commission and this has spiked our salary expenditure but we have tried our best to cut spending in other areas,” said Prakash, claiming that the budget deficit has been brought down.