Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday asked the commissioners of the three BJP-led municipal corporations to improve their performance or quit office. The CM gave the three officers a three-week deadline to submit a blueprint on how they will revive the financial health of the corporations.
If things do not improve in a year they will have to go, Kejriwal is understood to have conveyed to them.
The corporations administratively report to the Union home ministry through the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) chosen by the Centre. But the three bodies depend on grants-in-aid from the Delhi Government. In the run-up to the February 7 assembly elections, Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party campaigned aggressively against ‘the corruption’ in the three civic bodies and how they ‘mismanaged’ the city.
“Kejriwal was willing to give the commissioners one year to work on their blueprints and prove that they can run the corporations,” said a government source. Kejriwal asked them to consider themselves as CEOs of their corporations. “He promised to give them full support but said he would not tolerate incompetence.”
In Delhi, the municipal corporations play a critical role. They manage waste, run primary schools, hospitals and community services, share upkeep of roads, drains and parks with other agencies, besides regulating small trade and business.
The East Corporation, which has a monthly salary budget of Rs. 85 crore, has not been able to pay its 27,000-strong staff in January. The North Corporation with a monthly salary budget of Rs. 170 crore could not pay 60% of its 70,000 employees.
Kejriwal asked why safai karmcharis had not been paid for three months. After trifurcation of the corporations in 2012, the administrative expenses have gone up, while shared revenue is not of much help.
The Delhi government coordinates with the three corporations through a directorate of civic bodies. The money that the home ministry releases also comes to them through the Delhi government. “There is a tug of war for control over the corporations. The new AAP government is interfering even in areas where it doesn’t have the authority to do so,” said a senior corporation official.
Kejriwal also asked the VAT (value added tax) commissioner to submit his plan on how the department will generate Rs. 30,000 crore in taxes in the next financial year. Before the assembly elections, Kejriwal had claimed that the VAT revenue generated when he was CM went up significantly as against the same period in the previous year because of a ‘no-raid’ regime.