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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Delhi govt refuses to toe Centre’s line on Metro directorial board

Delhi government said that earlier bureaucrats nominated to the board had failed to serve interests of the state, and that the Centre had “no right” to suggest or dictate terms to it.

delhi Updated: Jul 19, 2019 01:46 IST
Sweta Goswami
Sweta Goswami
New Delhi
The Delhi government on Thursday refused the central government’s suggestion to withdraw its “non-government servants” — some of them who are ruling party members — to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) directorial board.
The Delhi government on Thursday refused the central government’s suggestion to withdraw its “non-government servants” — some of them who are ruling party members — to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) directorial board.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
         

The Delhi government on Thursday refused the central government’s suggestion to withdraw its “non-government servants” — some of them who are ruling party members — to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) directorial board. It said that earlier bureaucrats nominated to the board had failed to serve interests of the state, and that the Centre had “no right” to suggest or dictate terms to it.

On Wednesday, the Centre had written to the state government to withdraw the names as central rules on directorial board membership applied to the DMRC too.

Responding to this, transport minister Kailash Gahlot on Thursday said that the Delhi government’s experience so far with the practice of having its Delhi bureaucrats on the Board “has not been good”.

“Our officers are not able to properly present the interests of Delhi’s people and Delhi government on DMRC Board. Also, since the service matters of Delhi government officers are under the control of central government, Delhi government officers fear saying anything which could annoy the central government,” the minister wrote in his reply to the Centre.

He added that the Delhi government and the central government are equal partners in the DMRC. “Therefore, one partner has no right to suggest/dictate the other partner who should be nominated as its nominees,” Gahlot said.

On Saturday, the Delhi government, in a first, had nominated four non-bureaucratic persons as directors to the DMRC’s Board. While three of them — Atishi, Raghav Chadha and Naveen Gupta — are Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders, the fourth nominee is Jasmine Shah is the vice-chairperson of the Dialogue and Development Commission, a policy think tank of the Delhi government.

Following this, on Wednesday, the ministry of housing and urban affairs had written to the Delhi government asking it to withdraw the four names citing that nominating non-government officers will be against the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) guidelines. The centre asked the Delhi government to instead nominate its top bureaucrats such as the chief secretary, finance secretary and transport commissioner saying they’ll bring “domain knowledge”, “expertise” and “accountability” to drive the DMRC into a world-class transport service provider.

On Thursday, Gahlot defended Delhi government’s stand by saying that the same DPE guidelines “strongly recommend” that “non-government officials” should be nominated as Board members. The minister also stated that the guidelines further say that the number of government directors on the Board of any public sector enterprise (PSE) should not exceed one-sixth of the actual strength of the Board and should in no case exceed two.

“In the case of DMRC, out of a total strength of 17 directors, presently there are 6 directors who are government officers (5 central government nominees and the MD who is a Delhi government nominee). This is much more than what has been prescribed by the central government guidelines. Therefore, nomination of 4 non-government officials by Delhi government is in accordance with the Central government guidelines,” read the letter accessed by HT.

Besides, the Delhi government said that there are innumerable instances when the Central government has nominated private individuals on the Boards of various PSEs. “For instance, Shazia Ilmi and Sambit Patra, both political persons, are directors on the Board of Engineers India Limited and ONGC respectively. What domain expertise do these individuals have? Late Madal Lal Khurana was appointed as a director and chairman of DMRC by the previous NDA Government. What domain expertise did he have? In sharp contrast, two of our nominees are chartered accountants and one of them is an Engineer from IIT (Madras),” the minister said.

Citing its disappointment with bureaucrats, it said that Delhi government officers had “failed to protect the interests” of the public when Metro fares were hiked in 2017.