The budget for Chennai's civic body prioritizes education and infrastructure

The budget for Chennai's civic body prioritizes education and infrastructure

If a student passes a competitive test and gets admitted to a globally renowned university, the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) will pay for their first year of tuition. The budget for 2023–2024 released on Monday by the DMK–led government coalition in power saw the announcement. The 2023–24 budget for Chennai placed special emphasis on improved road infrastructure, storm water drains for flood control, and an increase in green space.

From from year on, corporation school students who pass the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and are admitted to institutions like the National Law School and AIIMS are eligible for this advantage.

A separate set of instructions will be released shortly, according to R Priya, mayor of Chennai. An admission exam will be used to select pupils from Classes 9 through 12 who will attend corporation schools to prepare them for competitive exams.

According to the mayor, of the 64 projects that were announced in the budget for the previous year, 35 have already been finished, 28 are in progress, and one will be finished in 2023–2024.

Mayor Priya, the first Dalit woman from Chennai and the youngest person ever to hold this office, submitted her second budget in May 2021, after the DMK took power in Tamil Nadu, with a revenue shortfall of 335 crore. The local government anticipates collecting 1680 crores in property taxes in 2023–2024.

The GCC provided funding for the installation of storm water drains, bus route roads under Singara Chennai 2.0, and the paving of 1,335 bus route roads totaling 251 km under the Tamil Nadu Urban Road Infrastructure Fund (TURIF).

The corporation allotted 260.5 crore for solid waste management and 102.5 crore for building new bridges and expanding existing ones.

77 crore has been allotted for transforming open spaces into parks and playgrounds. The councilors' ward development money has been increased from 35 lakh to 40 lakh each year, and special work will be done with these monies.

A parking and transportation development committee will be established in Chennai to enhance amenities in light of the city's high automotive density. In three of Chennai's 15 zones, the on-street parking, which is overseen by private businesses, will be increased.

Education-related announcements included things like the introduction of "happy courses," which would run every day for 10 minutes in the first session. The mayor declared that morality, love, and virtues would be taught to the students during this period.

The government upper secondary school would spend 6.26 crore rupees building a model school. In order to increase students' knowledge of international affairs, a model "United Nations" will be established in Chennai corporation schools. The reward for teachers achieving 100% on the exams for Classes 10 and 12 has increased from 1,500 to 3,000.

The civic body also introduced "Makkalai Thedi Mayor," in which the mayor would meet with citizens once a month in each of Chennai's three regional offices, north, central, and south, to hear their complaints.

The T Nagar Residents' Welfare Association, in response to the budget, questioned why, despite the GCC projecting a property tax collection of 1680 crores for the most recent financial year 2022–2023 but only managing to collect 1400 crores.

According to a member of the organization who requested anonymity, "The corporation has set a goal of 1680 crore... it appears to be significantly lower that the total collected under property tax, given the massive arrears."

How much of the goal established for 2023–24 will be collected in the actual tax revenue for the year and how much will be collected in arrears? The GCC has established a goal for recovering back taxes. Another person noted that the defaulters list posted on the website included information on people who had filed lawsuits in addition to the top 100 defaulters.

According to the GCC, these situations have prevented it from being able to collect arrears. The GCC should end the stay and collect the arrears wherever the parties have secured a stay. Such situations cannot be left unattended. If only the GCC takes tenacious attempts to recover the arrears as well, its income would surely increase, he claimed.

Another participant agreed that funding for road construction, SWDs, and park beautification is beneficial, but added that the money should be used wisely for the intended reasons.

"Maakalai Thedi Mayor is a positive development, but the gathering has to have purpose. Mahesh Kumar, the deputy mayor, and the mayor don't even reply to WhatsApp messages. They ought to reply if they really care about the people. They need to pay unannounced visits to wards to see the situation firsthand, the member said.