A day after the Union home ministry issued a notification handing over 17 powers of the Centre — earlier delegated to the lieutenant-governor — to the Delhi government, many in the government and the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) were scratching their heads about the exact powers.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit desisted from commenting on the notification.
“I have not seen the notification. I will react only after studying it,” she told the media.
Delhi chief secretary Rakesh Mehta was more forthcoming.
Asked if he felt this enhanced Delhi government’s power over the MCD, he said: “There is no question of power. There was an overlap in a lot of things. Especially in public health, education and welfare schemes like Laadli. We are very involved in these areas and were facing difficulties due to multiplicity of authorities.”
He said the government would get better control over health, education and building regulations. “The building byelaws, and the chapter on amendment of byelaws is also coming to us,” he said.
MCD officials and leaders from the BJP, however, insisted that the power to frame byelaws was still with them.
“Framing of building byelaws, which is an important aspect of MCD, has not been given to Delhi government. This is a big victory for us,” said Subhash Arya of BJP, leader of the MCD House.
The legislative wing of the civic agency said the power of the central government to frame building bye-laws was covered under Section 349A of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 was not transferred to Delhi government.
Mehta, however, said the notification puts Section 330A governing general superintendence of building regulations under Delhi government since the MCD commissioner was supposed to operate under its direction.
“We have 330A that is general superintendence of building regulations. As I understand it, building byelaws are with us,” he added.
The new notification transfers certain important powers over approval of funds, all improvement schemes (roads, flyovers, underpasses, parks) that were approved by the Centre, powers to appoint a commissioner (with the Centre’s prior approval), control over schools, public health and building regulations to the Delhi government. Some reports said a separate department might be set up to look at MCD-related matters under Dikshit.
Government officials said this increases the state government’s say in the running of the MCD, since the civic agency would require the clearance of the state, not merely treat it as a route to send files to the Centre.
BJP councillors reacted strongly to the move, saying they would take up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Mayor Kanwar Sain would lead the delegation to the PM to request him that Delhi government does not interfere in their working.
Subhash Arya, leader of the MCD House, said out of the 516 sections, Delhi government has been given powers of only 12 sections.