ByÂ Parnil Yodha:
The controversy of the MCD getting split into five parts is getting extensively heated-up- even more than the weather- coupled with the recent events that added fuel to the fire. I am referring to the tussle which is taking place between the Delhi government and the dissenting councilors.
The DPCC (Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee) president, Jai Prakash Aggarwal, has always been vehemently opposing the split of the corporation and the increase of number of wards since the very beginning. Severe criticism is coming not only from BJP councilors but also from within the congress and almost all councilors have tendered their resignation.
J.P.Agarwal commented, “At present, there are 12 zones in Municipal Corporation. There is already a division into twelve, now they want to split it further. Why they want a division, I do not understand. Why not they make more Deputy Commissioners, increase the revenue and the budget, I ask. The division was in the manifesto of BJP in the last elections; it lost. Then also why the government wants the split?”
The main argument which is coming from the proponents is that the smaller units will bring more accountability and increase the revenue generation. The commissioner would become more accountable because then the municipal body would have lesser population to serve. The ideal size of population for municipal governance to be effective is suggested to be five to six million according to experts. A smaller civic body will also ensure improvement in public interface and grievance redressal.
Mrs. Sheila Dikshit is appearing to be the sole advocate for the splitting of MCD as she is adamant on her opinion that the division will lead to improvement in governance, making the civic body more transparent and accountable.
The opponents are arguing that this would lead to more contestants, therefore, a tougher competition in the polls. The new system will, however, increase the control of the state government over the corporation. The Delhi Finance Commission, which currently allocates funds to MCD and NDMC, will have to be given greater discretionary powers as it will be allocating to four local bodies instead.
“We agreed to the increase in number of wards from 134 to 272. Now, it has not even been four years and they, again, want to increase the number of wards to 408.They have not even given a chance to let it work and now, again they want an increase. There is no logic behind this. This will increase problems and make the institution weaker”, said Rajni Abbi, Mayor of Delhi, in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
Earlier this week, on Wednesday, an informal meeting of the Delhi cabinet was convened by Ahmad Patel, Political Secretary to Sonia Gandhi, to discuss this issue which was attended by Sheila Dikshit, the CM of Delhi, Chaudhary Birender Singh, AICC general secretary in-charge of Delhi and DPCC president as well. No consensus had been reached as the reports said. It is being said that Mrs. Dikshit has submitted a report to the party high command over this deadlock.
On being asked about the Delhi cabinet meeting which was held by Mr. Patel the day before, Rajini Abbi replied, “Even the CM is against the increase in the number of wards. Ahmad Patel is learnt to have presented the proposition of having a trifurcation, by merely saying let’s have a trifurcation. So, I think it appears like they are having some kind of experiment which has no logic behind it”.
The contentious issue started when the report of the Walia Committee headed by the Health Minister A.K.Walia, which was the first political committee constituted by Sheila Dikshit, the CM of Delhi, to restructure the civic body and look into its functioning, came-up with its report consisting an array of recommendations encompassing division of MCD into five smaller units to improve its functioning and governance. For every unit, there should be six wards and six councilors, one councilor for a population of 40, 000, the committee had recommended. The number of wards should be increased from 272 to 408. The committee had recommended having five mayors and five municipal commissioners. There will be five mayors and five standing committees and a mayor council will sort out various issues concerning functioning of each of the municipalities.
“The excuse they are giving is that the population and area have increased. If that is the case why do not they also increase the number of MLA’s as well along with that of councilors? The CM is acting autocratic.” emphasized Yogender Chandolia, Chairman, Standing Committee.