The east Delhi municipal corporation may be struggling to pay its workers — who have just agreed to call off a crippling strike over held up wages — but that hasn’t stopped its councillors from giving themselves a fat salary boost.
Finalising its budget on Wednesday, the corporation proposed a monthly packet of up to Rs 55,000 for each of its 64 councillors — with the tab to be picked up by the government. The proposal will go to the Delhi government for final approval.
The packet includes a basic salary of Rs 25,000, an allowance of Rs 10,000 each to maintain a driver and a computer operator, and another allowance of Rs 1,000 for each meeting attended with a monthly limit of Rs 10,000.
Currently, councillors — elected members who decide on civic projects in areas under their jurisdiction — don’t draw a salary and are paid Rs 300 for each meeting.
This allowance never comes up to more than Rs 1,000 a month for most of them.
The proposal, if accepted, would cost the corporation Rs 35 lakh a month or up to Rs 4.2 crore annually. With the north and south corporations, with 104 councillors each, expected to follow suit, the total annual bill for all three civic bodies — ruled by the BJP — would be Rs 17.9 crore.
The MCD has already estimated its deficit for the next financial year to be around Rs 5,100 crore.
But east corporation officials insist it is long due. “The remuneration of Rs 300 (for meetings) was last fixed in 1997-98. Since then, however, the salaries of MLAs have been revised more than six times,” said Ram Narayan Dubey, the east corporation’s leader of the House.
In a dig at the Aam Aadmi Party government, Dubey claimed that if the salaries of MLAs can be hiked 400%, the councillors deserved some remuneration too.
“We have raised the issue several times and passed it as a resolution this budget session. We are not seeking a drastic raise, just something to cover daily expenses like fuel, office and phone. Our councillors travel more than 50km within their wards and have to bear the cost themselves,” he said.
Dubey also said this lack of fixed compensation discouraged young people from taking up politics. “We should at least have a respectable salary. As per the current scheme, only those with businesses or family members to support them can join politics.”