Delhi's MCD delimitation report out, parties gear up for election

Updated on Sep 14, 2022 04:57 AM IST

The delimitation committee redrawing the Capital’s municipal wards has suggested the number of municipalities be reduced in 23 assembly constituencies, most of which are in North and South Delhi areas, according to the draft report released on Tuesday.

A view of the MCD Civic Centre Building in New Delhi.
A view of the MCD Civic Centre Building in New Delhi.
By, New Delhi

The delimitation committee redrawing the Capital’s municipal wards has suggested the number of municipalities be reduced in 23 assembly constituencies, most of which are in North and South Delhi areas, according to the draft report released on Tuesday.

The panel is firming up the blueprint to whittle down the city’s existing 272 municipalities to 250 as the Capital also reunites its three municipal corporations into a single body, a process that is crucial before the long overdue civic elections can be held.

On Tuesday, the committee invited public feedback over the next 21 days and officials said they will now meet twice a week to address issues raised by the voters or political parties and 250 teams will be deployed to verify geographical disputes.

The new wards are expected to be drawn up by November and the civic polls process, which includes notification by the State Election Commission, is likely to begin by the end of December this year, two officials aware of the matter said, asking not to be named.

Panel sets ball rolling for polls
Panel sets ball rolling for polls

The delimitation panel has divided the adult population of Delhi (16,418,663 as per census 2011) into 250 units with an average of 65,674 voters per ward, but many municipal politicians from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) raised objections, saying there were wide variations in the number of voters per ward. For instance, they said, there was an extreme low of 35,509 in Chandni Chowk and a high of 93,381 in Mayur Vihar phase-1.

One of the officials said 23 wards have been removed and a new one has been created.

During the process, some well-known wards like GTB Nagar, Anand Parbat, Tagore Garden and Vivek Vihar are proposed to be removed while minor changes and boundary readjustments have been carried out in 44 assembly constituencies. Names for at least 20 wards, including key places like Ajmeri Gate, Kasturba Nagar and Safdarjung Enclave, are to be renamed.

Decoding the draft delimitation report
Decoding the draft delimitation report

“Our mandate was to make these changes within an assembly area with average of around 65,000 voters [per ward] and 10% variation as far as practically possible,” a senior state election commission official said, asking not to be named. “The draft proposal will lead to major rejig in 24 assemblies and minor adjustments in rest 44 assemblies,” the official added.

The delimitation panel is headed by former chief secretary Vijay Dev and was constituted by the Union home ministry on July 8, 2022. The ministry, on Saturday, notified that the city will have 250 wards with 42 seats reserved for members of Scheduled Caste communities.

According to the report, the ward framework has undergone major changes in 10 assemblies in erstwhile North MCD areas (Burari, Timarpur, Badli, Sulatanpur Majra, Mangolpuri, Rohini, Shalimar Bagh, Tri Nagar, Wazirpur, Sadar Bazar); nine assemblies in former South MCD areas (Madipur, Rajouri Garden, Janakpuri, Uttam Nagar, Dwarka, Matiala, Najafgarh, Deoli, Sangam Vihar) and four in East Delhi areas (Trilokpuri, Kondli, Shahdra, Seemapuri).

Mustafabad is the only assembly constituency where the ward count has gone up from 4 to 5 units with addition of new Dayalpur ward.

Reacting on the notification for delimitation of wards, Delhi minister and AAP leader Gopal Rai said, “We were waiting for the delimitation to take place. They have released a notification announcing delimitation of constituencies. However, almost all the constituencies have been delimited without any logical basis to it. Several neighbourhoods have been shifted to different constituencies randomly and the officers do not seem to have any clue of it. Some wards have a population of 45 thousand while the others have a population of 75 thousand. The funds allocated to each ward will remain the same. How does it make sense to develop an area with a population of 75 thousand with the same fund?”

“The AAP is reviewing the results of the delimitation. The Election Commission has sought a response in the form of suggestion or objection till October 3rd. We will provide the response on the basis of ground reporting to the EC. We are optimistic that it will help to get rid of baseless delimitation done by these people,” he added.

Subhash Arya, the former mayor and veteran municipal councillor from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who has worked in the MCD for over 25 years, said the seats that have been disturbed are mostly the ones with very high voter count. “In maximum cases, the number of seats has gone down from four wards in an assembly to three wards with a few cases of ward reduction from five to four units per assembly. We have noticed that in some cases, JJ clusters and colonies have been divided between separate wards and these issues will be raised with the panel,” Arya said, adding that in all likelihood, the civic polls may be held in December.

Delhi Congress president Anil Kumar said that the party welcomes the move. “The delimitation of the 250 wards should be completed at the earliest so as not to delay the MCD elections any further, as people were facing terrible inconvenience and harassment in the absence of an elected body in the MCD. Delhi Congress is confident of coming to power in the MCD with absolute majority,” he said.

Delhi last went through a delimitation exercise of municipal wards in 2016-17, before which the 68 assemblies were divided in four wards each. At the end of the 2017 exercise, the number of wards per assembly seat varied from three to seven.

Deep Chand Mathur, retired director of information who served in the unified MCD from 1980 to 2011, said the number of wards has kept varying over the decades with civic elections in 2002 being held over 134 wards, which later rose to 272 wards in 2007 elections. It was rearranged internally and has now once again come down to 250, he added.

An MCD official, who asked not to be named, said changes will be in around 20 wards, with Ajmeri Gate being changed to Chandni Mahal, Kasturba Nagar to Amar Colony, Safdarjung Enclave to Green Park, Peeragarhi to Naresh Nagar, and Laxmi Park to Guru Harkishan Nagar. “The names have been decided based on the merger of a new prominent area, colony or a landmark in the new proposed ward,” the official explained.

As most of the proposed wards to be removed come from semi-urban and unauthorised areas, the change is likely to impact ticket allocation to contenders from Outer Delhi, North East, Najafgarh belt and several unauthorised colony belts.

An SEC official aware of the development said the drafts have been sent to the nine political parties of Delhi for their feedback. “Two hundred and fifty teams will be deployed to check the ground reality in case of objections related to geographical distribution. We will meet 2-3 times a week to keep clearing all objections and the finalised report will be sent to home ministry by first week of October. The MHA will notify the final draft but we hope the entire process will be wrapped up by November 8, 2022, which was original four-month deadline for the panel,” this official added.

According to Anil Gupta, a former chief law officer of MCD, the state election commission will have to then initiate the process of issuing reserved ward lists for SC, SC women, and general women candidates. Typically, the state election commission provides 30 days to prepare for elections after announcing dates, a period during which the model code of conduct is enforced.

People can access the report on the state election commission website sec.delhigovt.nic.in and submit their objections/suggestions at the State Election Commission, Nigam Bhawan, Kashmere Gate or through e-mail to delimitation.mcd.2022@gmail.com.

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