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Sheila loses best excuse

Ever tried to get an overflowing drain fixed? Chances are you got a convoluted lesson in the jurisdiction of Delhi’s different civic agencies.

delhi Updated: Sep 14, 2009 00:08 IST
Anuradha Mukherjee

Ever tried to get an overflowing drain fixed? Chances are you got a convoluted lesson in the jurisdiction of Delhi’s different civic agencies.

If the Centre finally decides to make the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) answerable to the Delhi government, it will mean one agency less for the common man to contend with.

Chances are, the civic agency may not even exist in the current shape.

Ahead of the Commonwealth Games, the Centre is keen that no scope for passing the buck is left. Trifurcation of the MCD has been on the Sheila Dikshit-led Delhi government’s agenda for several years now. But any change in its structure can only take place after being ratified by the Parliament.

According to Delhi government sources, the proposal forwarded by the Centre proposes to hand over a bulk of its area of jurisdiction in the MCD to the National Capital Territory of Delhi. “Any decision taken by the Government of India, will come to Delhi government," said a highly placed source, who refused to be named before the Delhi cabinet responded to the Centre’s proposal.

Apparently, the BJP was set to accord the same powers to MCD when they were at the Centre. "But the then L-G had said since Delhi was a Union Territory, there is no entity called National Capital Territory,” said a senior government official, who refused to be named.

Dikshit, however, was understated in her response. “I have not looked at the note, but we have definitely received it. I believe they (Centre) have asked us for a response, then they will get back to us again,” said Dikshit.

This will also mean that the one hotbed of dissent against whoever occupies the Chief Minister’s post will also be liquidated. The civic body is used almost as a parallel government that often takes potshots at the chief minister — regardless of which party is in power.

Former Delhi Congress chief and Sheila baiter Late Rambabu Sharma used his influence over the MCD to torment Dikshit, often refusing to follow her lead despite both being from the same party.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party that holds fort in the MCD at present had been accusing the Delhi government of withholding funds in a crucial year ahead of the Games to spoil its image, the CM had pointed at the civic agency and accused it of inefficiency and corruption in the past.

But there are positive views within the MCD too. "If the MCD is put under Delhi government, it may end its funds problem. At present, we have to reply on our collections from property tax and advertising for extra funds,” an MCD official said.

“The amendment regarding enhancing fines and charges by five times is still pending with Delhi government. We continue to levy fines that were fixed in 1957. They have not cleared our heritage buildings’ list. No wonder things get stuck,” the official said.

The issue of multiplicity of authorities once again assumed centrestage ahead of the 2008 Delhi Assembly elections when the Congress downplayed its earlier demand for full statehood and spoke instead of too many agencies hindering decision making.

Delhi Mayor Kanwar Sain, however, felt it was a “politically motivated step”. “They (the Congress) have a government at the Centre and in the state, they are trying to take undue advantage. The allegations of inefficiency against the MCD are nothing but the Delhi government’s malicious campaign to cover up the inefficiencies of their own agencies,” Sain said.