Chandigarh MC House resolves to push ahead with free water, parking projects - Hindustan Times

Chandigarh MC House resolves to push ahead with free water, parking projects

By, Chandigarh
Jul 10, 2024 07:56 AM IST

Attending his first House meeting, MP Manish Tewari, backed by councillors from all parties, termed Chandigarh administration’s decision to strike down MC resolutions ‘illegal’

Digging its heels in, the Chandigarh municipal corporation House on Tuesday resolved to press on with its previously approved agendas of 20,000 litres of free water monthly for each household and complimentary parking across city markets after MP Manish Tewari, backed by councillors, termed UT administrator Banwarilal Purohit’s rejection “illegal”.

Addressing the MC House, MP Manish Tewari termed Chandigarh administration’s decision to reject approved MC resolutions without serving a notice illegal. (HT Photo)
Addressing the MC House, MP Manish Tewari termed Chandigarh administration’s decision to reject approved MC resolutions without serving a notice illegal. (HT Photo)

Cutting across party lines, the councillors unanimously passed the resolution in the House after MP Tewari said, “When the agenda was passed in March, I wasn’t the MP at that time. I read in the newspaper that the Chandigarh administration annulled the resolutions by evoking powers under Section 423 of the MC Act, which says that the government may annul an illegal proceeding passed by the House.”

“At first, giving free water or parking to people wasn’t illegal. Also, the Act envisages a mandatory show-cause notice to MC and no such notice was served. Why didn’t they serve a show-cause notice? The Act mentions the use of the word ‘shall’ and not ‘may’ as far as serving show-cause is concerned, about hearing the corporation first. I don’t want to use hard words, but I will say that the decision taken by outrightly rejecting the agenda is illegal and the annulment is therefore void ab-into for lack of following due process,” Tewari detailed.

The newly elected MP, who attended his first House meeting, clarified, “This is not a matter of free water or free parking, but it is about MC’s rights and independence, and about due procedure to be followed as per the MC Act.”

Earlier, Congress councillor Gurpreet Singh Gabi started the House proceedings by stating, “Why does our city need an MC when UT has to take all decisions on its own? Is MC meant for fixing only paver blocks and tiles in the streets or cleaning the sewer pipes? MC is not able to make any policy and the elected representatives of the city are not being heard. Did UT send any show-cause to the mayor? Did UT bother to listen to our plan? All answers are ‘no’.”

Mayor Kuldeep Kumar Dhalor had last week asked MC commissioner Anindita Mitra to inform the House why the UT administrator rejected the free water and parking proposals.

During the meeting, he said, “I haven’t received any show-cause notice from UT or the letter saying that the proposals have been rejected.”

The House further said, “We will send the resolution to UT that their procedure of rejecting the proposals is illegal and that we will stand firm on our approved agendas. We will go ahead with the two proposals.”

Commissioner Anindita Mitra, meanwhile, clarified that, “I will send the resolution to UT’s local government department, but the final decision will be taken by the UT.”

All House decisions go to the UT administration for the final nod.

Freebies part of AAP’s 2021 MC poll promises

Both giveaways were originally part of AAP’s 2021 manifesto, but were delayed by the party’s struggle to secure the mayor’s chair for two years.

Soon after Dhalor took charge as the mayor—after a controversial election marred by poll rigging allegations against the BJP—in February this year, the agendas for free water and free parking were brought to the House.

Both were passed with the support of Congress councillors on March 7, days before the Lok Sabha elections were notified.

Tewari, who was the INDIA bloc candidate, had also included the promise of 20,000 litres of free water to each household every month in his poll manifesto, along with 300 units of free power to those with a monthly income of less than 20,000 and no new taxes.

But on June 14, the UT administration rejected MC House’s free water resolution, citing that it was not financially viable.

While explaining the financial implications of the proposal, MC officials had apprised the UT administrator of the annual loss of 19.70 crore if 20,000 litres of water was provided free.

However, AAP councillor Yogesh Dhingra accused MC officials of presenting misleading financial facts to UT, stating, “We have a plan and it will just cost 1 crore annually.”

Soon after his election in June, MP Tewari had lashed out at the BJP-led central government, stating that when the NDA/BJP government took pride in providing free ration to 75 crore people, it was mind boggling that the UT administration rejected a unanimous resolution of MC to provide free water to Chandigarh residents, even though according to the administration, the total subsidy element is only 19.70 crore annually.

“This is not even a pittance of the 5,862.62-crore annual budget of Chandigarh. It does not require rocket science to discern the more than evident political partisanship manifest in this decision,” he had said while targeting the administrator.

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