It was exactly 54 years ago that the MCD donned its present avatar after evolving from many municipal commissions and committees. Till 1957, Delhi’s civic requirements were looked after by 12 different committees and boards, which had little coordination. To ensure uniform development of the city, the government enacted the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act in 1957.
The first general municipal election was held in March 1958 and the MCD was born on April 7, 1958 after amalgamating 10 different local authorities. The Delhi
Cantonment Board and the New Delhi Municipal Committee continued to exist as independent entities.
MCD today has 272 councillors but when the body was established in 1958, there were 80 councillors, of which 12 seats were reserved for scheduled castes. Its deliberative wing was headed by the mayor and the executive wing by the Municipal Commissioner.
The first meeting of the new House was addressed by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Its first Mayor was freedom fighter Aruna Asaf Ali.
The corporation and its various committees constituted the deliberative wing which was responsible for policy-making, supervision, guidance and control. The work of the policy execution was entrusted to professional administrators and technical personnel which made up the executive wing.
With growing responsibilities and increasing population of the city, the MCD was first decentralised in 1963. Many powers were delegated to zonal committees and officers. In 1967, the number of councillors went up to 100.
“The wards then were huge in area. Two to three members were chosen from one ward,” said Mahesh Chand Sharma, former Mayor. “The councillors back then wielded a lot of power,” he added.
Sharma also said that the agency had some eminent citizens as its mayor such as Ali, Hans Raj Gupta, Kedar Nath Sahni, Sham Nath and Nooruddin Ahmed. “Though the mayor didn’t have executive powers, the post became eminent thanks to the stature of these personalities,” Sharma said.
“Elections back then were very different. The atmosphere used to be electric with many public meetings and door-to-door canvassing unlike now,” he added.
Sharma said the MCD used to be a huge monolith till amendments in 1993 brought big changes. “Before that, MCD was the only agency responsible for the development of the city as there was no Vidhan Sabha,” he said.