Even as the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bicker over the Delhi State cabinet clearing the trifurcation of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), a debate has been re-ignited about whether such a solution would work for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the richest civic body in the country.
The Delhi state cabinet said running smaller corporations leads to a more efficient system of governance. Agreeing with this, Ranjeet Chavan, director-general, All India Institute of Local Self Governance (AILSG), said, “We have always maintained that small administrations are far more manageable than mammoth organisations. The BMC chief sitting at the civic headquarters will not be able to relate to a problem in Dahisar as efficiently as a local administrator would.”
Independent corporator Adolf D’Souza feels there is an obvious disconnect between the people and the administration. “The city has become too large and too complex to be handled by a single administrative body,” he said. Critics, however, point to the difference in the areas of administration of the MCD and the BMC. The MCD covers nine districts of Delhi and has an administrative area of more than 1,300 sq km, compared to the BMC that has just one-third of that – around 437 sq km.
A senior civic official, not wishing to be named, said, “The area we have to administer makes a huge difference. Even though it’s debatable whether MCD was trifurcated over administrative or political reasons, the reality is that Mumbai is not as large as Delhi so the comparison shouldn’t arise.”
Comparisons notwithstanding, both critics and supporters agree that the city’s local governance needs to be decentralised.
Former chief secretary DM Sukhtankar, who was also a former municipal commissioner, is opposed to the idea of dividing the BMC, while agreeing on the need to decentralise power. “Dividing the BMC is not a solution. Instead, there could be more decentralisation by the way of forming more sub-organisations like the BEST or even sub-committees which focus on specific subjects.”
AILSG’s Chavan, meanwhile, also says an alternative to dividing the BMC would be to have an additional municipal commissioner and a deputy mayor posted for every zone, comprising of a few wards. “In addition, the BMC could also empower ward officers so that they can take important decisions.”