cities

Raising grants to SMC elected leaders: Standing panel to take up proposal today

If approved, the grants to elected leaders will more than double from the current Rs 15.90 crore per year to Rs 37.75 crore

The Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) administration has forwarded a proposal to increase the grant of elected councillors and the Mayor to the standing committee for approval. The proposal, prepared by the administrative authority with the objective to carry out development works in the newly added and existing areas of the city, will be taken up before the standing committee meeting Saturday.

As per the proposal, the Rs 10-lakh grant per year given to elected municipal corporators would be increased to Rs 25 lakh. Similarly, it has been proposed to increase the grants of the leaders of the Opposition and the ruling party from the current Rs 70 lakh to Rs 1.5 crore per year. The proposal also suggests increasing the grant to the Standing Committee chairman and Deputy mayor from Rs 70 lakh per year to Rs 2 crore, while for the Mayor from Rs 2 crore to Rs 3 crore per year.

Currently, the total grant fund of the elected leaders of SMC amounts to Rs 15.90 crore per year. If the Standing Committee approves the proposals, it would rise to Rs 37.75 crore per year.

The leftover grants get carried forward to the next year. During the first four years of their five-term tenure, councillors can use their grant for their own wards but for the remaining year, they can use it in other wards.

“We welcome the decision to increase such grants. The grant is public money and it is good that it should be used for providing better facilities to citizens,” said Dharmesh Bahnderi, AAP councillor and SMC’s leader of Opposition.

“We have also come to know that there is a lot of misuse of the grants as toys and other items are purchased using these and donated to Anganwadis. The councillors get 10 percent of the amount as commission. We wish that SMC authorities also ensure to check on corruption while using the grant,” he added further.

On June 18 last year, the state government had passed the order to merge 31 villages and two municipalities (Sachin and Kansad) with SMC. The Surat city area was 326 sq km with a population of 60 lakh before the merger. After the merger, the total area has increased to 472 sq km with a population of 62 lakh.

“With the merger and to provide basic primary facilities like light, road, drainage, water, etc, we have sent a proposal to raise the councillors’ grant. SMC already provides basic facilities but there are some works that are left behind,” said Surat Municipal Corporation commissioner BN Pani.

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