The ongoing stalemate in the three municipal corporations of Delhi has its origin in the previous Congress government’s mishandling of the trifurcation of the civic body. The strike by the corporation workers has affected the dispensation of civic amenities in the national capital.
Sources said that the financial trouble started with the trifurcation of the unified MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) in 2012. The erstwhile unified MCD had a budget of Rs 6,200 crore, which shot up to Rs 13,400 crore because of additional expenditures, following the creation of three sets of all departments, besides the additional posts of mayor and commissioner.
Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung offered a Rs 300 crore loan to the corporations in an attempt to end the strike. Delhi government has already released Rs 693 crore for payment of salaries and other routine works.
There are altogether 270 wards in the three corporations. The trifurcation, said a source, should have been done equally, with 90 coming under each corporation. However, while the North and South MCDs have 104 wards each, East MCD has only 64. Among the three, the situation of East MCD is worst as a large number of people live in this area in unauthorised colonies.
According to the Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, Vijender Gupta, the trifurcation was a political decision and was arbitrarily taken. “The viability aspect was not looked into. Despite the trifurcation process being unviable, the then Sheila Dikshit government went ahead with it and the result is that the corporations have been in trouble ever since,” he said.
The Fourth Delhi Finance Commission to look into the financial aspects was initially set up in 2009, which gave its report in 2013, a few months before the Delhi Assembly elections. The Commission’s report was not tabled at the time, as, according to sources, it might have “exposed” the Congress government’s decision of going ahead with an “unviable” exercise.
The Commission has made several suggestions to improve the health of the civic bodies. For example, the Commission has recommended increasing the global share of corporations by three times. Besides, it has also suggested 100% reimbursement of education grants.
Subsequently, the report could not be tabled due to political uncertainty in Delhi in the wake of the short stint of the AAP government (49 days) and later the President’s Rule. When the current Delhi Assembly was elected last year, Vijender Gupta raised the issue of tabling the Commission’s report, for which he was marshalled out of the House. Subsequently, Gupta moved the High Court. After Court’s direction, the report was tabled on 3 December last year. However, its recommendations have not been implemented so far.
It is believed that the current tussle between the AAP-led Delhi government and MCDs will continue for another year. “The municipal elections are slated next year. The AAP would like to keep the issue alive to get electoral mileage in the elections,” said sources.
While trifurcating the MCD, the then Delhi government had promised that it would financially sustain the local bodies until the time they become independent. But it did not fulfill its promise. Sources said all three corporations have a due of more than Rs 5,000 crore to the state government.