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Centre sitting on panel report that calls for more power to Delhi govt

As lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung fights a bitter battle with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal for administrative control of Delhi, the Centre — the LG’s employer — is sitting on a panel report, which, if implemented, would give more powers to the CM.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2016 00:21 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
In this file photo, Lt. Governor of Delhi, Najeeb Jung, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and health minister Satyendra Jain hold a meeting on dengue and chikungunya at Raj Niwas in New Delhi.
In this file photo, Lt. Governor of Delhi, Najeeb Jung, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and health minister Satyendra Jain hold a meeting on dengue and chikungunya at Raj Niwas in New Delhi.(HT Photo)

As lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung fights a bitter battle with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal for administrative control of Delhi, the Centre — the LG’s employer — is sitting on a panel report, which, if implemented, would give more powers to the CM.

Ironically, the panel, appointed by the Modi government and headed by former home secretary Madhukar Gupta, submitted its report to the union urban development ministry in October 2015 but the document is yet to be made public.

“The report is under examination,” a ministry spokesperson said to a query about secrecy over the panel’s recommendations.

HT accessed the report that calls for the state government to be given greater control over land, a larger representation in the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) board and more powers to plan the city’s transport needs.

It also favours a state-government run housing board that will assess the requirement and build houses for different sections, a job entrusted to the DDA.

Read| Delhi headed for chaos, our decisions being rendered null and void: Kejriwal

Holding the authority responsible for the city’s urban mess, the report calls for the DDA to be stripped of its role of land and property management and limit it to that of a “central planning authority” and a “facilitator”.

The report also recommends that the land lying unused with the DDA be transferred to Delhi government agencies.

Mandated to “revisit and redraft” the Delhi Development Act, 1957, the five-member committee, set up in February 2015, favours curtailing the role of DDA, the primary land owner and sole developer of the city that reports to the Union government.

The city government has to seek the urban development ministry’s clearance in all land-related matters.

The report could give fresh ammunition to the Kejriwal government, which is locked in a bitter fight with the Centre over police, DDA, transfer of officials and even moving of files. The battle is now being played out in the Supreme Court.

“This report should be placed in public domain, and discussed with the Delhi government,” deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia told HT, surprised that such a report existed.

The report, he said, made it clear that there was nothing unconstitutional about their demand for more power to the elected government.

“As a former home secretary, he (Madhukar Gupta) knows what the constitutional provision is and would have made his recommendations within this framework,” he said.

Given the equation between the Centre and the Kejriwal government, it was unlikely that the report would be made public, a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

Madhukar Gupta declined requests for comment.

Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay, too, refused to be drawn in. “I will not like to comment on the merits of the report as the final draft is still to come in public domain,” said Upadhyay, who is also a member of the DDA board.

Read| Jung vs Kejriwal: Both sides have to learn to work together