‘Study tour’ to Andamans by Mumbai corporators raises eyebrows

Mumbai, Jan 28 (IANS) A four-day ‘study tour’ by over a dozen corporators of the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation has evoked criticism from various quarters, with many terming it a wastage of public resources.

The study tour led by Mayor Snehal Ambekar — which some opposition parties labelled as a picnic and junket — began on Thursday.
Around a dozen corporators, mostly from the ruling Shiv Sena, are part of the tour.
Apprehending public backlash, ruling ally Bharatiya Janata Party, and opposition parties like the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Samajwadi Party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and others suddenly backed out of the trip at the last minute.
The corporators will study the water drainage and sewerage systems on the islands at the intersection of the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean.
Prior to the tour, Standing Committee chairman Shailesh Phanse justified the visit on grounds of similarity between the Mumbai islands and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and study the mechanism used there to drain flood or heavy rain waters and examine whether it can be replicated in Mumbai.
Top BMC officials refused to comment on the expenditure to be borne by the civic body for the study tour.
Terming it a “misplaced priority”, Congress legislator Sanjay Dutt said: “The BMC has no resources for the development of Mumbai, but yet has money to send its corporators on an expensive junket.”
The picturesque Andaman and Nicobar Islands, some 300 in number spread across nearly 8,000 square km, support a population of around 400,000.
In contrast, the country’s commercial capital Mumbai has an area of just 600 square km with a population of 1.8 million and an annual budget that rivals some smaller Indian states.