Municipal corporations in Delhi are on an inauguration spree. Cash-strapped and unable to initiate development work of any kind, these civic bodies have hit upon the idea of ‘surrogate campaigning’ -- renaming old projects all over again, in the hope that they will be able to woo the public before civic polls next year.
Sources said the inaugural ceremonies which invariably follow the official renaming gives local leaders a chance to interact with the public and highlight the different initiatives taken in the past for the development of the renamed place.
Until last year, the municipal corporation cleared close to 70-odd projects depending on new projects undertaken. This year, the three municipal corporations have already cleared more than 400 projects for naming and remaining. The naming committee usually meets twice a year, but the committees of the three municipal corporations have met over four times in the last six months.
The new names may range from those of local leaders, martyrs, freedom fighters and politicians, down to religious figures.
All public places are susceptible to this sudden change of name. Parks, community centres, roads (including internal roads) and even public toilets, have not been spared.
As a result, Ramleela Park in Peera Garhi will now be known as ‘Bhagwan Parshuram Ramleela Park’ and a road from Gali number 190, Onkar Nagar, all the way to Tota Ram Bazar will be called ‘Om Prakash Binjhiliya Marg’.
Area councillors usually moot the idea of name change. “These suggestions then go to the ‘naming committee’, which takes a call and passes it on to the ‘standing committee’. If the standing committee approves, the names are finalised by the MCD ‘House,’ said a municipal official.
For instance, a park in sector 16, Rohini, has been named ‘Swami Dayanand Saraswati Vatika,’ after Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
Similarly, a road in village Dasghara has been named ‘Dada Bhaiya Marg’ after the village deity.
A crossing in Keshavpuram C-7 market has been named ‘Kranti Chowk’ because it is near a retirement home and cultural centre, often visited by freedom fighters.
A Maternity and Child Welfare Centre in A-Block Jahangir Puri has been named ‘Mool Chand Maternity and Child Welfare Centre’ after the Late Mool Chand, an ex-metropolitan councillor.
A community hall in Shakurpur will soon be named ‘Ram Kripal Sharma Baratghar’ after a local leader and social activist, according to the area councillor.
Some of these projects are also up for a second inauguration. The Bijwasan flyover, which was inaugurated by the local Congress councillor on December 25, and is now already in use, is expected to see another inauguration by the ruling BJP leaders in the coming months, said a senior official from the South Delhi Municipal Corporation.
Senior leaders in these municipal corporations, meanwhile, said the naming of public places is an annual affair. However, they blamed the Delhi government for the current financial condition of the corporation.
“The Delhi government owes us more than Rs. 3,000 crore in arrears and if there are no development projects, then the Arvind Kejriwal government is to be blamed for it. The naming of parks and roads is however an annual affair,” said Ashish Sood, senior BJP leader and South Delhi Municipal councillor.
“The BJP failed to generate funds in the last nine years of its rule and as a result of their inefficiency they have been left without funds. The Delhi government is in no mood to help them,” said leader of opposition, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Mukesh Goel.