The decision, approved unanimously without any discussion, is likely to cost the civic body Rs 16 crore, considering there are 164 corporators.

Months ahead of the civic polls, all party corporators in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) unanimously approved a proposal allowing each of them to distribute hand bags, buckets and benches worth Rs 10 lakh from civic funds. The decision is likely to cost the civic body Rs 16 crore, considering there are 164 corporators.

The five-year term of the current general body will end in three months, on February 15 next year. The civic administration had banned the purchase of hand bags, buckets and benches using civic funds due to the pandemic-induced financial crunch. There was stiff opposition to this decision and corporators from all parties had sought to lift the ban.

On Monday, the civic administration’s proposal came up for discussion in the general body meeting. It proposed that Rs 5 lakh each can be used for distribution of hand bags, garbage bins buckets while additional Rs 5 lakh can be utilised for providing benches at various societies and community spots. Without holding any discussion, corporators of all political parties approved the proposal in haste.

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In the past, there was controversy over purchase of benches due to allegations of corruption in procuring them from the ward development funds of the PMC.

Civic activist Vivek Velankar of Sajag Nagrik Manch has objected to PMC’s decision. “The corporators are being allowed to spend Rs 10 lakh each on unnecessary things. They had distributed jute bags worth Rs 11.5 crore, with their name on it, from civic funds to discourage the public from using plastic bags. However, the use of plastic bags continues. Similarly, PMC has put up thousands of benches across the city in the last few years. The civic administration should verify their condition and existing status before purchasing new benches,” he said.

Velankar requested Municipal Commissioner Vikram Kumar to use his special powers to revoke the decision and save public money. “If you are not able to cancel the decision then at least ensure that the name of the corporator does not appear on bags, buckets or benches,” he said.

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