MCDs tussle: North seeks rent from South corp for using HQ

Senior North MCD officials aware of the matter said that its south counterpart owes 2,457 crore rent till 2020, and if the rent for the current year is accounted for, the total due are 2,837 crore
Jogi Ram Jain, the chairman of the North MCD standing committee, said that both the committee and the commissioner have written to the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to pay the rent soon, so that it could be “added to budget under the head of income”. (Source: Twitter)
Jogi Ram Jain, the chairman of the North MCD standing committee, said that both the committee and the commissioner have written to the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to pay the rent soon, so that it could be “added to budget under the head of income”. (Source: Twitter)
Updated on Dec 24, 2021 03:27 AM IST
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By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Facing the ire of unpaid employees as well as courts, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation has written to the south corporation demanding 2,837 crore as rent for using the Civic Centre -- the headquarters of both north and south civic body -- since the two corporations shifted to the high-rise building in central Delhi after the trifurcation of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi in 2012.

Jogi Ram Jain, the chairman of the North MCD standing committee, said that both the committee and the commissioner have written to the South Delhi Municipal Corporation to pay the rent soon, so that it could be “added to budget under the head of income”.

The north MCD, which has more liabilities than its total budget for the next financial year, has not paid at least two months’ salaries to its staff leading to strikes by various staff unions. The demand by the North civic body comes in the wake of persistent attacks by the opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which has maintained that the BJP-ruled corporation has failed to realise thousands of crores in dues from central agencies such as DDA, and seek financial aid from the BJP-led Union government.

Senior North MCD officials aware of the matter said that its south counterpart owes 2,457 crore rent till 2020, and if the rent for the current year is accounted for, the total due are 2,837 crore. A senior north corporation official argued that a 2012 order clearly states that after trifurcation all the properties that come in the jurisdiction of each civic body will be allocated to it. “The order stated that the south corporation will be allowed to stay in the Civic Centre till it builds a new head office, but that cannot be construed as a permanent free of cost arrangement,” the official who asked not to be named said.

The unified MCD had its headquarters in the now abandoned Town Hall in Chandni Chowk.

A south corporation official said that when the MCD was divided in 2012, the East MCD was allocated a portion of DSIIDC building in Patparganj Industrial area, and the SDMC was allowed to continue in the newly built headquarters on Jawaharlal Nehru Marg. “Ever since the offices shifted to the Civic Centre from Town Hall SDMC continues to pay its share of maintenance charges,” the SDMC official said.

SDMC leader of the house Inderjeet Sehrawat said common funds were used to develop the Civic Centre, and it cannot be asked to pay rent. “If siblings are dividing the ancestral property, and one brother does not have anywhere to move, it is unprincipled to ask for rent for staying in common ancestral property. We do not have a separate headquarter building and the civic body currently does not have enough money to build one,” he said.

A senior north DMC official familiar with the issue said that the office space allocation decision of the then council of ministers meeting held on March 16, 2012 was communicated to commissioner of unified MCD. “An order was then issued by the commissioner of unified MCD allocating various floors between the North and South MCDs. It was mentioned in the order that since the Civic Centre falls under the jurisdiction of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, the administrative control of the Civic Centre will be with the North Delhi Municipal Corporation,” the official said.

The controversy began in 2015, when North MCD issues rent notice to the South MCD. With all the municipal corporations facing a financial crisis, the rent issue emerges every few years. The tussle took an ugly turn in 2016 when the office of the then SDMC commissioner Puneet Goyal’s secretary Mangal Singh was sealed by the North MCD. However, the seal was removed after a few hours.

Over the last decade, several ideas have been floated to develop a separate SDMC headquarters at Dwarka, IP Estate, Greater Kailash and Vasant Kunj, but none materialised. More than five years after a new SDMC headquarter was proposed at IP estate near Pragati Maidan, the plan remains largely on paper.

Sehrawat said the project to build a new headquarter by SDMC near Pragati Maidan was initiated five years ago, but it several agencies such as PWD and ITPO objected to it on various accounts. “Now, the SDMC is also facing shortage of funds,” he added.

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