Maharashtra is struggling to handle the coronavirus pandemic, the lockdown implemented due to it is causing a financial crunch. At a time like this when the Government needs to implement austerity measures and divert all the resources towards necessities, the reverse is being done.
A tender worth whopping 900Cr rupees has been floated by the PWD department for the reconstruction of an MLA hostel at a prime location in Mumbai. The project will have two towers one 42-story and another 28-story with 675 flats in total. Each residence will be spread over 1,000 square feet- 600 square feet for personal use and 400 square feet for official use.
The multi-crore luxurious project includes an open-air gymnasium on the terrace, meeting and conference halls, waiting for halls for MLA visitors, a canteen, a grocery, a salon, shops, a dispensary, and a theatre.
The old towers which were built in just 1994 were demolished in 2018 due to them being in displayed condition. Currently, the Government pays each MLA & MLC 1 lakh per month as rent to find alternate accommodation in the same vicinity.
This rent even though falls on an upward scale of rental rates in Mumbai amounts to a total of approx. 40 crores per year (Total 366 legislators*1 lakh* 12 months), significantly less than the 900Cr unwanted splurge. This 40 Cr will break even with 900Cr tender amount only after approx. 22 years, the old hostel stood there for only 24 years after being adjudged dilapidated structure.
Hence by pure mathematics, the older way of issuing rent seems to be more efficient. To save on more of the taxpayer’s money an austerity measure of reducing the rent by 50% can be done. 50,000 per month is decent enough to find a more than decent 1000 square feet rented space in Mumbai.
The BJP government had earlier entrusted the reconstruction of the Hostel to the central public sector undertaking – National Building Construction Corporation for approx. 400Cr in 2017. The MVA Government citing delays scrapped the old tender in 2020 and floated the new one under PWD for 900Cr. This high escalation in cost in such a short duration fails all logic and the opposition is alleging a scam in it.
Nevertheless, construction of such luxury apartments must be shunned by lawmakers during the pandemic and the amount should be used in essential spending. The eyebrows raised by the critics pointing out the wasteful expenditure by the government holds true and it needs to be scrapped.