Delhi civic bodies pass censure motion against AAP government
With just a week left for the presentation of their annual budgets for next financial year, the north, south and east Delhi Municipal Corporations are finding it hard to allocate funds under various heads since the Delhi government has not released sufficient money under plan head this year, said MCD officials.
The north, south and east Delhi municipal corporations moved a censure motion against the city government for its ‘lukewarm response’ in releasing funds under the ‘plan’ head during the special house meeting on Thursday.
With just a week left for the presentation of their annual budgets for next financial year, the three civic agencies are finding it hard to allocate funds under various heads since the Delhi government has not released sufficient money under plan head this year, said MCD officials.
The “plan expenditure” is a dedicated fund allocated for development works in specific sectors, while the “non plan expenditure” is the fund generated from MCD’S internal sources of income and taxes (shared by Delhi government) to meet the running costs.
Tilak Raj Kataria, North corporation’s leader of the house, said, “Every year, we plan our budget on the basis of funds from Delhi government received in the previous year. But this year, only ₹100 crore in health and education sector has been released to date and nothing in urban development and transport sector. In comparison, we received ₹800 crore in all these five sectors last year.”
Kataria appealed to the Union government to withdraw the amendments made in the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act 1957 (Section 66) prior to trifurcation, thereby ending the state government power to interfere in the process of transferring funds (received from Centre) to civic agencies.
Anil Lakra, leader of the opposition and Aam Aadmi Party councillor said the civic agency has done nothing to increase its revenue sources in the past 10 years. “There are projects, which are pending for more than five years, when AAP was not in power. We had suggested them several methods for increasing revenue from property tax, advertisements and contractors but nothing has been implemented.”
“The state government has given them funds more than the previous government for development. In fact, unlike the Congress government, the AAP didn’t ask for loan and interest payment,” he said.
MCD officials said that the shrinking sources of revenue and increasing expenses have not just increased the deficit but halted work on various projects, which were undertaken from the funds released by the state government.
“With no funds released under transport sector, we could not repair most of the roads after rains. Similarly, works like construction of three new rail under bridges at Narela, Ghevra, and Kirari and construction of drains in resettlement colonies could not be taken up due to the state government not releasing funds,” said a north corporation official.
SDMC leader of the house Kamaljeet Sehrawat said if the situation prevails, the south body too will start showing budgetary deficit like its east and north counterparts.
“This time only ₹137 crore was released under the plan head by the state government. To cope with the situation, our finance department has made fresh proposal to reduce budget allocations or take out money from projects under non-plan head as a contingency measure till the funds are released to us. But this can’t continue forever,” Sehrawat said.
Crippled by a financial crisis since the trifurcation of municipal agencies in 2012, the east corporation raised the demand for releasing ₹10,228 crore as recommended by Fourth Delhi Finance Commission.
However, within hour of beginning of house meeting, councillors indulged into blame game leading to ruckus. Finally, the opposition AAP councillors were marshalled out after huge uproar.
A Delhi government spokesperson said the civic bodies have on several occasion gone to the court on this issue. “If the government had not released enough funds then the court would have directed us to do the needful,” he said.