Delhi govt gives ₹938 crore, says BJP ‘bankrupted’ MCDs
Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday said the Delhi government would provide ₹938 crores to the three municipal corporations for paying salaries to their employees, adding that the civic bodies have gone bankrupt because of the corruption by councillors of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Sisodia, who is also the finance minister of Delhi, said the BJP-led central government owes ₹11,500 crore to the MCDs but has not paid a penny because of a “lack of trust”. He said that the MCDs owe the Delhi government ₹6,276 crore but they are in no position to repay the amount.
The BJP and the MCDs dismissed the allegations as “baseless” and said that the Delhi government owes them much more than what was announced on Thursday for the financial year 2020-21.
“Seeing the suffering of the MCD employees, the Delhi government has arranged ₹938 crore. This money was meant for government departments and other schemes. I appeal to the employees to ensure that the money is not embezzled by MCD councillors. The BJP came to power (in MCDs) 14 years ago, and it has completely bankrupted the three municipal bodies. Now, only ₹12 crore are left in the bank accounts of North MCD, while East MCD has only ₹99 lakh in its account,” Sisodia said at a press conference.
Thousands of employees of the civic bodies, mostly from the North corporation, are on an indefinite strike since January 7 against non-payment of their salaries for the last 3-5 months.
Sisodia said the government arranged the money for the MCDs despite a shortage of funds.
“The MCDs owe the Delhi government ₹6,276 crore. The BJP bankrupted the MCDs to such an extent that they don’t even have the money to pay their own employees. Now, we are the ones giving them money again, despite facing shortage of funds. The MCDs should get ₹11,500 crore from the Centre. But the BJP leaders in the Centre believe that it cannot be given to them because the leaders in charge of MCDs will embezzle the money. Even the Centre is not giving funds because of the rampant corruption and lack of trust despite CM Arvind Kejriwal writing on several occasions to the Union government to provide funds to the MCDs,” the deputy CM said.
Sisodia said despite loss of revenue due to the pandemic and the fact that the government had no liability, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal ordered funds to be arranged because he believed that the employees must be paid for their work.
He added, “The chief minister said that it is not the fault of the employees --- if they’ve worked, they should be paid. Therefore, he took this decision to help the employees and ordered that funds should be arranged. Even the Delhi government is short of funds. We’ve also had to stop many schemes to budget. However, ₹938 crore is being given for the salary of the employees, despite the Delhi government having no such liability.”
While the MCDs have claimed that the Delhi government owes ₹13,000 to the civic bodies, the Aam Aadmi Party government has alleged misappropriation of funds to the tune of crores in the MCDs and maintained that it has paid all funds to the civic bodies.
According to civic officials, there are around 1.5 lakh municipal employees in Delhi. The north corporation alone has a workforce of around 55,000 and it spends nearly ₹360 crore every month on salaries and pensions. There are nearly 35,000 employees in EDMC and its expenditure on salary is approximately ₹184 crore per month. The SDMC has about 45,000 staff and it spends nearly ₹210 crore on salaries every month.
AP Khan, convener, Confederation of MCD Employees Union — an umbrella body of 45 unions of civic employees in three municipalities— said that the financial assistance being given by the state government was “not sufficient” and the agitating employees will go ahead with their plan of taking out a march from civic centre —headquarters of north and south corporations— to the Delhi Secretariat on Friday (January 15).
“The government decided to release funds only after our ultimatum to gherao the secretariat and boycott the vaccination programme. It’s a small amount which will barely help the three civic bodies in releasing only one month’s salary. We want a permanent solution to the crisis. This move is only to divert our attention from the real issue of fund crunch in MCDs,” he said.
The BJP leaders in MCDs said the government already owed the money and that the amount was not enough.
Jai Prakash, mayor of North Delhi Municipal Corporation, said, “They have made this announcement to divert attention from agitating employees. The funds they are giving is already earmarked for the third quarter of the financial year 2020-21. They are yet to pay our dues for the second quarter. In the second quarter of the fiscal year 2020-21, we were supposed to get ₹1,024 crore from the government but got only ₹400 crore. ₹624 crore are still due. When will we get this amount?”
East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) mayor Nirmal Jain said, “The Delhi government has decided to give ₹938 crore to all the three MCDs. If they further decide to deduct to adjust previous loans, as they claim, it will be reduced further and will literally serve no purpose,” Jain said.
Anamika Mithilesh, mayor, South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) said, “The government is terrified because now the public knows that they are deliberately stopping funds of the municipalities. They have to pay our dues of ₹13,000 crore.”
The commissioners of the MCDs did not comment on the matter.
BJP leader and spokesperson RP Singh said the state government should first release the funds that it owes the MCDs. “The local government owes the corporations about ₹13,000 crore. Of the ₹13,000 crore, they have so far paid only ₹9,068 crore,” he said.
Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor said, “Firstly, the allegations are baseless and we condemn the kind of words the deputy CM has used for elected leaders in a press conference. The funds released by Delhi government are not even equal to one-third of the funds the Delhi government owes to MCDs for the current financial year. It is also irresponsible of him to say that the Central government is not giving to MCDs the per capita annual grant which it gives to most other civic bodies in the country because the Centre doesn’t trust municipal leaders. Truth is that the 14th Finance Commission on whose recommendations the Centre gives annual grant to civic bodies has kept Delhi’s municipal corporations out of its preview. The 14th Finance Commission’s recommendation says Union Territories which have local state government will not be eligible for the grant.”