Free mobile phones to 28,000 sanitation workers, permanent jobs to 6,000 daily wagers plus free life insurance, 500 special toilets for the physically challenged, a medicity and legal status to illegal constructions made up to February 8, 2007 in rural areas were among a slew of sops announced by the BJP-ruled North Delhi Municipal Corporation ahead of the crucial MCD polls in Delhi.
The promises were made notwithstanding the crippling financial crunch -- the estimated budgetary deficit for the next financial year will be R3,610 crore -- that the civic body is facing. The current deficit Rs 2,754 crore.
All three municipal corporations in the city are ruled by the BJP. Except the south Delhi civic body, both north and east bodies have not turned profit ever since their inception in 2012. However, with the poll dynamics changed this year with the emergence of AAP, the BJP-ruled civic bodies are losing no opportunity to woo the voters ahead of the municipal polls which are likely to be held in April.
Sanitation and other staff of the civic body have gone on strikes in the past couple of years several times over non-payment of regular salaries.
Chairman of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation’s standing committee, Pravesh Wahi, also announced that senior citizens above 100 years of age will be exempt from paying property tax, provided the said property is registered their name. The agency also promised organising monthly heath camp for women.
“Sanitation workers would be given free mobiles by end of this year. We will finance the project from funds received under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan from the Centre. The decision would help in strengthening sanitation services. Their mobile numbers will be shared with RWAs who can contact them in case they are absent from work,” said Wahi.
He said 6,000 daily wagers will be regularised in different departments against the vacant positions, in a phased manner.
Wahi also declared to free hold the 1500 flats allotted under Ambedkar Awas Yojna to North Corporation’s safai karamcharis during the presentation of revised budget for 2016-17 and budget estimate for 2017-18.
The leader of the opposition Mukesh Goel rapped the BJP for making big announcements without having the funds to implement them. “The corporation has no money to pay salaries on time so how it will provide funds for implementing the sops. They are simply fooling people and making promises which can never be fulfilled,” he said.
“Also, the decision to exempt senior citizens above 100 from paying property tax is really funny. How many people in city would be above 100 years?” he said.
Goel also riled the BJP over the announcement of disabled-friendly toilets. “They have promised 500 toilets. But the truth is that they did not construct even 30 such toilets. There is no land to construct these toilets,” said Goel.
Wahi also announced tax exemption to residential properties up to 20 square metres from the next fiscal. “These properties are largely occupied by the poor,” said Wahi.
To increase revenue collection, the chairman also shared plans to sell advertising space on MCD website. “Our website is viewed by lakhs of people every day. Advertisements could help us earn Rs 10 crore per year,” said Wahi.
NDMC also said that with the UPIC (unique property identity cards) system, survey of 37 wards have been done and 2 lakh properties have been identified which did not pay property tax.
“NDMC would collect property tax from these properties and it is expected to earn Rs 250 crore in each next two financial years,” he said.