Statehood for Delhi a complicated matter, easier said than done: Experts
Since it is not possible for the central government to come under a state government’s administrative jurisdiction, it automatically means Delhi has to be bifurcated if one part of it is to receive full statehood.delhi Updated: Jun 12, 2018 10:36 IST
The Delhi government’s demand for full statehood might be gaining steam but experts say the Aam Aadmi Party regime should be “careful about what they wish for”.
Parliamentary and constitution experts said the demand for full statehood has been examined thoroughly for years and its implementation would mean bifurcation of Delhi and snatching away several privileges it enjoys as the national Capital.
Omesh Saigal, former Delhi chief secretary, said since Delhi is the Capital of India, it shares jurisdictional space between central and state governments. This means that the city has offices, establishments, cantonments and services that are under the Union government.
Since it is not possible for the central government to come under a state government’s administrative jurisdiction, it automatically means Delhi has to be bifurcated if one part of it is to receive full statehood.
The Delhi government resolution specifies that areas under the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) will be under the control of the central government.
“Not just NDMC areas, they will have to exclude the area around Red Fort because the PM unfurls the tricolour there and also the Delhi airport as foreign dignitaries come on visits. This will be a major revenue loss for the city. Eighty per cent of the Delhi government’s revenue is generated from areas such as Connaught Place, Chandni Chowk and offices on Barakhamba Road,” Saigal said.
The bifurcation will not just be geographical but division of all services provided to citizens of united Delhi—the police, land development authority, water works and all other services.
Delhi will no longer be able to live off the subsidies from the Centre. The state government’s budget will implode with liabilities such as payment of salaries of police and pension of all Delhi government employees, currently borne by the Centre.
“There are certain privileges residents enjoy and these will be taken away if the status is altered. Delhiites will stand to lose and the only people who will gain will be the political class,” said SK Sharma, parliamentary and constitution expert and former secretary Lok Sabha.
Experts said even though the state government has passed the resolution, the process of getting full statehood will not be easy. Though both Congress and BJP have in the last two decades demanded full statehood, the Centre has shown little enthusiasm. “Monday’s resolution does not hold statutory value. The Centre is under no obligation to agree. At best, the Delhi government can put political pressure on the Centre,” Saigal said.