Shameful that MCD doctors have to protest for their salaries: Kejriwal
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said it is “shameful” that doctors of hospitals run by municipal corporations in the Capital are forced to protest for their salaries and urged the Centre to disburse funds so that they could be paid.
Kejriwal’s criticism of the three MCDs, ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), came a day after mayors of the civic bodies staged a sit-in protest outside the chief minister’s residence on Monday, demanding immediate release of dues to the tune of Rs13,500 crore they claimed the Delhi government owed them. However, on Tuesday, the chief minister’s office called this number “completely fictitious” and asked the MCDs to show how they arrived at the figure.
“The MCD doctors are on strike due to non-payment of salaries for many months now. This is utterly shameful. They are the ones who risked their lives to protect, treat, and serve us and our families. This is a very sensitive matter, and there should be no politics on the issue,” Kejriwal said at an event in east Delhi’s Ghazipur on Tuesday, even as doctors working in municipal hospitals continued to protest over non-payment of their salaries since June.
Rebutting claims by MCDs that they were not paid enough money in the current financial year, a government spokesperson said the Delhi government has already disbursed over Rs 1,750 crore to the three civic bodies between April 1 and October 26 this year.
“The Delhi government’s total amount due to the three civic bodies in this fiscal is Rs 1,965.91 crore, of which Rs 1,752.61 crore has been given. The remaining amount has been sanctioned and is under the disbursal process. The MCD should tell us where this money was used. Usually, the Delhi government disburses around Rs 4,500 crore each year to the MCDs, but it has been slightly lower this because our own tax collection has nosedived,” the government spokesperson said.
Kejriwal instead asserted that MCDs owe the Delhi government Rs 3,800 crore loaned to them. Apart from this, he added that the civic bodies also owe Rs 3,000 crore as bills to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB).
“The MCD cannot run with such mismanagement and blatant corruption. Let me give you an example. I inaugurated the Seelampur-Shastri Park flyovers day before yesterday. They were to be completed at a cost of ₹303 crore, but we completed them in one-and-a-half years at a cost of Rs 250 crore. On the other hand, the Rani Jhansi flyover, work on which was started in 2006 and was to be completed by 2010 by the MCD. But it took 14 years and got completed in 2018. The cost of the project was Rs 178 crore, but it took Rs 750 crore for the project. The time has come to stop this corruption in MCDs,” the chief minister said.
MCD elections are scheduled to be held April 2022.
The chief minister also urged the Centre to pay the ‘grant-in-aid to the local bodies’ as mandated under the 14th Central finance commission, which the MCDs claimed Delhi was never eligible for because it is a union territory.
Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta said, “We have the detailed break-up of Rs 13,500 crore. This amount is due as the government has not paid funds as per 3rd, 4th and 5th Delhi finance commission’s recommendations. To hide their failure to release funds on time, they are diverting the issue and blaming the Centre for it. I want to ask Kejriwal, why didn’t your government ask for this fund earlier?”
A government spokesperson said the recommendations of the fourth Delhi finance commission could not be implemented because the Centre refused to pay the state government from its central pool of taxes, from which Delhi was supposed to give more funds to the MCDs. “But, the Centre did not even respond to our plea and hence, the 4th DFC was not enforced,” said the spokesperson.