In a major policy decision — political repercussions of which have already been set in motion — the Delhi cabinet gave its “in-principle” approval to splitting the Municipal Corporation of Delhi into five.
In a special meeting called by chief minister (CM) Sheila Dikshit, the Cabinet accepted the recommendations of the three-member Dr Ashok Walia committee for creation of five smaller municipal corporations in the Capital, in place of the mammoth MCD currently in place. The Cabinet also agreed to increase the number of councillors from 272 to 408.
The cabinet decision, however, has stirred a hornet’s nest, as the Delhi unit of both the ruling Congress as well as the BJP openly expressed its displeasure with the Cabinet’s decision.
Conceding that the Cabinet found the recommendations made by the Walia Committee “acceptable”, Dikshit said no final decision has been taken so far. “The Cabinet has not taken a final decision. Some suggestions were made in the cabinet meeting. We are getting those suggestions examined. We will finalise it in two-three days,” Dikshit said.
The MCD, the second-largest municipal body in the world after Tokyo, currently covers 97% of the area and 98% of the population of Delhi. According to the report submitted by the three-member committee — that also includes PWD minister Rajkumar Chauhan and education minister Arvinder Singh — there will be a separate municipal body for East Delhi, West Delhi, North Delhi, South Delhi and Central Delhi. There will be one municipal councillor for a population of 40,000 and each assembly segment will have six councillors.
The recommendations also include appointment of one Mayor and one municipal commissioner for each municipal body. The five municipal bodies would be governed by a “Municipal Managing Council’, with the CM as its chairman.
A principal secretary-level officer in the local self-government department (under the urban development ministry of the Delhi Government) will be the administrative head.
“We studied municipal bodies in other Indian cities and abroad and found that smaller units could manage things better. Since we do not have the Panchayat system in Delhi, we decided to split the MCD into smaller units,” Dikshit said.
Smaller civic bodies to spell big benefits for citizens
With smaller municipal corporations and increased number of municipal councillors, citizens will benefit the most.
There will be one municipal councillor for a population of about 40,000. That means chances that the councillor is someone from your own residential block will be higher. He will be more accessible and would know his ward closely.
With a smaller constituency, the councillor would be able to give more time to the area and the people and utilise funds more judiciously.
The revenue collected by each municipal corporation will be spent on maintenance and development of the area falling under the particular MCD. That means that the tax paid by you will be spent in your own area. It will not be used to provide services in areas that do not pay taxes.
There will be separate MCD headquarters in each of the five municipal corporations. So far, the whole of Delhi is governed from one town hall and one civic centre. With the division, each MCD unit will have its own executive and legislative set-up. People will not have to travel long distances for odd-jobs and complainants can approach the Delhi Government for redress.