Despite more than a year having passed by since the new board’s constitution, the Dehradun Municipal Corporation (DMC) continues to function without a deputy mayor in place.
In fact, the development committee of the civic body, which has to be lead by the deputy mayor, has been formed twice since May 2013 but has remained completely defunct in the absence of its presiding head. This has significantly affected the pace of development works in the city, rue corporators.
A key authority next just to the mayor, the deputy mayor holds important powers and is the ex-officio head of the DMC’s development committee.
The absence of a deputy mayor in the civic body has resulted in sluggish rate of developmental works as the entire workload falls on the mayor alone.
It may be recalled here that the local governing body functioned without a second-in-command during the previous board term of 2008-13 as well.
“With city’s ever growing population and burgeoning demands, the need for a deputy mayor to come in place has also shot up like never before. Unlike the working member committee that meets regularly to discuss important matters, the head-less development committee has been non-functional despite being formed twice. This has considerably impacted the development works,” said BJP’s Ajay Singhal, corporator of ward Jhanda Mohalla.
Some corporators feel that the issue of deputy mayor’s election has turned a victim of ‘political’ unwillingness. Dr Bijendar Pal Singh, Congress corporator of ward Bakralwala, said that the BJP-led DMC board was deliberately trying to keep the matter in cold storage.
“The mayor is trying to save his domination in the DMC board. That’s why no strong efforts have been made by him to pursue the matter with the state government,” he alleged.
On the contrary, Singhal, a BJP corporator, feels that the Congress-led state government is intentionally ‘delaying’ the issue.
“The BJP is in majority in the DMC board and the Congress knows that it’ll lose the post to us whenever elections take place. So, it is sitting over the matter silently,” he argued.
Notably, the state government directs the state election commission to hold polls for the election of a deputy mayor. However, there has been no breakthrough in the matter for more than a year. Now, a section of corporators of the DMC is planning to move court in this matter.
Vinay Kohli, Congress corporator from ward Karanpur, said that there was no relevance of electing development committee if there was no deputy mayor.
“One term of the committee (2013-14) went in vain with no deputy mayor. Filling up of the post is highly important for monitoring development works. He would also be able to liaison with the state government to push for various projects, which the mayor is largely unable to do owing to extreme work load on him,” said Kohli, adding that he along with some senior DMC corporators are planning to file a petition with the Uttarakhand high court in the matter.
Sitting at the topmost rung among the elected representatives of the DMC board, the mayor alone is responsible for leading a city with population of over seven lakh. When queried, Dehradun city mayor Vinod Chamoli passed the ball regarding deputy mayor’s election to the state government’s court.
“There was no deputy mayor during the past board too. In fact, the state government has to take an initiative in this matter but it is not doing so,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, state urban development minister Preetam Singh Panwar said that the state government is yet to consider the matter of a deputy mayor’s election. “There has been no development in the matter of the election of deputy mayor so far and status quo is being maintained in the case as yet,” Panwar told the Hindustan Times.