Overturning the decision of the INC-led UPA government, the BJP-led NDA dispensation has decided to end the trifurcation of the municipal management of Delhi, the national capital. The treasury benches in the parliament are bringing the amendment bill for “The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Act, 2022”.
The amendment bill provides for a unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi by bringing together once again the existing three corporations. The former Delhi Municipal Corporation had been divided into three municipal corporations, namely South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) in the year 2011 vide the Delhi Municipal Corporation Amendment Act, 1911 (Delhi Act, 12 Of 2011). The trifurcation of the corporation was uneven in terms of the territorial divisions and revenue generating potential of each corporation. As a result, there was a huge gap in the resources available to the three corporations, vis-à-vis their obligations.
The gap has widened over a period of time, increasing the financial difficulties of the three municipal corporations, leaving them incapacitated to make timely payment of salaries and retirement benefits to their employees and thereby creating serious impediments in maintaining civic services in Delhi.
Delhi BJP wants municipal reforms
Meanwhile, the BJP leadership in Delhi wants the civic body polls to be delayed by around six months so that the results of unification can be observed on ground, senior leaders in the party have said. “If things go as per plan, then the unification process along with other reforms would take around a month. After that, it would take a few months for its result to be visible on ground,” said a senior BJP leader.
The State Election Commission last week had postponed the announcement of dates for the MCD polls, following a communication from the Centre regarding the unification of the civic bodies. The Centre is likely to take up unification in the ongoing budget session of Parliament, a senior BJP leader had said earlier.
Senior BJP leaders said among the reforms that are being considered by the party dispensation is direct elections of mayors, their tenure being increased to at least two and half years instead of the present one year, as well as provisions for direct funds from the union government.
“The state unit is of the opinion that if the party has taken the responsibility of reforming the system, then it should do it entirely and see its results before polls are held,” said another senior leader. In such circumstances elections could naturally be delayed by around six months, he said.
“The problem is that whenever we do something, the opposition thinks it is being done for electoral gains. But we have seen how the corporations were paralysed by the Delhi government, which did not pay its dues. This led to salary delays, strikes and new initiatives being affected,” he claimed, adding that the reforms were long due.
Sources said the state leadership will be holding a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the coming days during which it would communicate its intention and give its feedback, after which the union government will take a call.
At a recent party meeting at the house of a union minister, in which the state leadership, some MPs and corporation leaders were present, officials of Daman and Diu gave a presentation on how the condition of schools and health infrastructure was improved in the union territory and how the same model could be followed in Delhi.
New initiatives taken to improve children’s reading, writing, and basic maths proficiency, strengthening healthcare delivery services, various paramedical courses launched in the union territory were shown in presentation. This led senior leaders to draw a conclusion that an image makeover of the civic bodies is needed to cut anti-incumbency before going to polls, said the leader.