Delhi: As mayors’ protest enters Day 10, civic officials fear delay in budget proceedings
The sit-in protest of Delhi’s three civic bodies’ mayors outside the residence of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal continued for the 10th day on Wednesday. Though mayors and other functionaries of the municipal corporations sitting on dharna have started basic work from the protest site, municipal officials fear that budget proceedings and discussions might get delayed if the protest continues. According to civic officials, budget proposals cannot be approved until there are proper deliberations by councillors, leader of the House and standing committee chairpersons of the three corporations.
Budget proposals for the financial year 2021-22 were presented in the north, east and south corporations earlier this month by additional commissioners of the civic bodies. These proposals are now to be discussed and approved by the elected representatives in the standing committees and House meetings.
A senior official of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) said that the budget proposals are to be discussed in the standing committee meeting of the civic body on December 21 and the House meeting is likely to be conducted on December 24 to deliberate on different issues. However, the chairperson is protesting in front of the CM’s house.
“In such a case, either we have to postpone the meetings while we wait for this impasse to be over or the deputy chairperson of the standing committee will have to handle the meeting for budget discussion. As of now there is not much of a problem but the deliberations on the budget may get delayed if the protest continues for another week,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
Officials in the North and East Delhi Municipal Corporation said that had there been no protest, the deliberations on the budget would have been scheduled for next week, but “the process might get affected” in the current scenario.
They, however, said that as of now budget proposals are being tabled in zonal offices before different municipal committees that do not require mayors or other senior political functionaries to be present.
“Budget proposals are approved after several deliberations at different levels. After being tabled by the commissioner, the budget is put before different municipal committees and then presented in the standing committee for deliberations and remarks of the chairman. It is then reviewed by the leader of the opposition and finally approved by the leader of the House. The process for all this starts soon after the budget presentation by the commissioner. If the protest continues further, we may require changes in the schedules of deliberations on budget,” a north corporation official said on the condition of anonymity.
As many as 30 BJP councillors, including mayors, standing committee chairpersons and leaders of Houses of the three corporations have been protesting outside Kejriwal’s residence at Flagstaff Road since December 7 for the release of allegedly pending dues of Rs13,000 from the Delhi government.
Political leaders in the three municipalities said that of the Rs13,000 crore, the north corporation is to get Rs6,355 crore, the SDMC Rs4,125 crore and the EDMC Rs2,985 from the state government.
Jai Prakash, mayor, north corporation, said, “We are committed that the work should not suffer so we have started working from the protest site. If required we might postpone the deliberations by one or two days and in the meantime, make some alternative arrangements so that the process is not affected further. We are sitting here for the cause of our employees as we are not able to pay their salaries. We hope that the Delhi government will listen to our demands and release funds soon.”
Similarly, Nirmal Jain, mayor, EDMC, said that currently, the budget was being presented before different municipal committees and there was “no delay” expected in deliberations on the budget. “We will make some alternate arrangements and ask deputies of those sitting on dharna to conduct deliberations on the budget. We will not leave the protest site until our pending fund of Rs13,000 crore is released,” Jain said.