The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) healthbudget has emerged as a disappointment yet again. In 2015-16, an amount of Rs. 3,359.78 crore has been allocated for the health department, a minor increase of 0.8% from the previous year.
According to experts, there is no mention of any plans to strengthen Mumbai's civic hospital infrastructure and promises made in the previous year's budget have not been fulfilled.
AdvertisementThe Corporation's budget planning is spread over three years, so the actual utilization of money that occurred in 2013-14 was revealed in the budget announcements of 2015-16 on Wednesday. While close to Rs. 2,508 crore was allotted for health in 2013-14, only Rs. 1,894.47 crore was utilized.
"Nearly Rs. 614 crore lies unutilized," remarked Ravi Duggal, a researcher with the International Budget Partnership.
In 2014-15, many new promises were made, such as constructing more hospitals, acquiring advanced machineries and increasing the number of hospital beds. The assurance of constructing hospitals - a 600-bed facility in Bhandup and another in Borivali - was made over a year ago. But nothing has been materialised so far.
Experts said that the promises made in the previous year's budget have been simply repeated. "For the past three years, the talk of refurbishing maternity homes in Mumbai is on. The same pointers have been cut, copied and pasted from last year's budget copy this year. The BMC has failed to implement its promises and proposals related to augmentation of health infrastructure," said a corporator from Kurla, Rais Shaikh. He added that a total of Rs. 1 crore would not suffice for constructing an 11-bed Intensive Respiratory Care Unit to provide assistance to over 35,000 patients suffering from tuberculosis.
There were procedural delays in constructing hospitals and ensuring that they were equipped with adequate infrastructure, admitted BMC authorities.