Friday, March 19, 2010

Councillors' Ward Improvement Fund

The Chennai Corporation has 155 wards, and each ward has an elected councillors. Chennai Corporation allocates some amount every year (It is 25 lakhs for the present financial year) to each councillor under which he can ask the corporation to do some specific works in the ward. This was implemented on the lines of MLA and MP constituency development funds. Sometime back I had filed an RTI application seeking to know its utilisation. I received only half the information but on 17th March 2010 the Chennai Corporation presented its budget wherein it increased the Constituency Development Funds allocation from 25 lakhs to 30 lakhs. But the information I had received so far revealed that a lot of these funds were unutilised. Hence I released this to the media on 18th March 2010. Here is the press release, which contains the details.


Chennai Corporation Ward Development Funds underutilised

(18th March 2010)

While yesterday's budget of Chennai Corporation had raised the Councillors' Ward Development Funds from 25 lakhs to 30 lakhs per ward, the past utilisation of these funds, Information revealed under the Right to Information act, makes one wonder if the increase is really necessary and justified. Data obtained under RTI from the Chennai Corporation reveals that in the past 4 financial years 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09 the average utilisation of this fund was only 67%. That is 1/3rd of the amount has been left unused.

Councillors are allocated funds for ward improvement works every year. This was on the lines of funds allocated for Constituency Development funds for MLAs and MPs. While this amount was 7 lakhs per councillor per year in 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08, it was increased to 15 lakhs in 2008-2009 and to 25 lakhs in 2009-2010. In 2005-2006 the utilisation was at 89.2%, but it dropped drastically to 49% in 2006-2007, followed by 70% and 64% in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 respectively.

What is more worrying is that till Dec 2009 of the current financial year, when 3/4ths of the year is over, only 25% of the funds have been utilised.

The Mayor Special Development fund is even more underutilised. The Mayor has been allocated 50 lakhs every year till 2008-2009 and so far, out of the 2 crores allotted in the 4 financial years 2005-06 to 2008-09, the total expenses for 4 years have been only 45 lakhs resulting in only 22% utilisation in the 4 previous financial years. In the current financial year where the Mayor has been allocated 2 crores, a 300% increase in allocation compared to previous years, only 9.71 lakhs, a mere 4.8% has been spent till the end of ¾ ths of the year.

The RTI application, that had also sought councillor wise data, was transferred to all the 10 zones of the Chennai Corporation but has elicited a reply only from 5 zones viz: I, IV, VI, VII and VIII. Data from these zones show that there are 3 councillors who have so far not used a single rupee of their funds in the last 3 financial years including the present one. They are Ms.S.Kalavathi (Ward100), Mr.G.Ekappan (Ward 101) and Ms.S.Selvi (Ward 111) all from Zone 7. The councillors who have not spent a single rupee so far in current financial year in zones I, VI, VII and VIII are

Ward Name
97 M.Govindasamy (Congress)
98 S.Venkatesan (DMK)
99 J.Krishnamurthy (DMK)
100 S.Kalavathi (PMK)
101 G.Ekappan (DMK)
102 N.Balakrishnan (PMK)
103 A.Rajathi (DMK)
106 NM.Abdul Majid (DMK)
108 V.Ganesan (DMK)
111 S.Selvi (DMK)
113 M.P.Anbudurai (DMK)
114 V.Christie (DMK)
116 Saidai P.Ravi (A) Rangaramanujam (Congress)
117 S.P.Viswanathan (Congress)
118 K.Jayanthi (DMK)
121 Pushparoot (DMK)
128 Radha Sambanthan (DMK)

The RTI application filed and the replies received can be downloaded from

The coverage can be seen at the following links.

Indian Express: Mayor more miserly than Uncle Scrooge
Times of India: 1/3rd of city councillors' ward funds lie unused
Dinamani: ஒரு ரூபாய் கூட செலவு செய்யாத 17 கவுன்சிலர்கள்

The response from the Mayor and some councillors (reported in the Times of India) has been very funny. They have tried to put the blame back on the corporation for rejecting some works. They have even said that since there was no place to implement any such improvement works in some wards. Even assuming that all this is correct, why should they hike the allocation if they are not able to utilise it?


Sivaram K P said...

Hi madhav,

I am sivaram kp, student doing project on RTI.i wanna take interview of you as view of RTI activist on "coverage of RTI in newspapers".Can you give me ur contact details?thank you

V Madhav said...

My email id is
Please email me on this from your personal email account, so that I can reply with my contact details.