Demolish the MCD

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Apr 24, 2006 01:13 AM IST

One could blame journalistic cynicism for our posing the question: why do we need a Municipal Corporation of Delhi?

One could blame journalistic cynicism for our posing the question: why do we need a Municipal Corporation of Delhi? But when the Delhi High Court asks pretty much the same question, perhaps it’s wise to sit up and listen. In a stinging observation last week, the court pulled up the MCD for adopting “dilatory tactics” in the demolition of unauthorised constructions in the capital. The reason for the authority that is responsible for upholding urban rules dragging its feet when it comes to correcting irregularities (read: illegalities) is startlingly simple: MCD officials themselves have been in league with those breaking the law. The court didn’t mince its words when it stated that the CBI investigate the alleged nexus between MCD engineers and officials and their political bosses for authorising illegal constructions in the first place.

HT Image
HT Image

If the MCD can take comfort in anything, it is in the fact that the Delhi phenomenon is replicated across the country. In Mumbai, for instance, slum demolition drives take on a cosmetic air when one notices that it takes only a few months for the cleared land to ‘regrow’ again. It’s the same story of slum lords in league with corporation officials in league with political bosses.

In the case of Delhi, the past has finally — and hopefully — caught up with the present. It is also a travesty of the state government that it has allowed such a symbiotic existence of corruption to thrive under its very nose.

One would be naive to believe that illegal activities were allowed under the rule of one government and not under that of another. It goes far deeper than that. Systemic corruption — the court describing it as “the State abdicating its duty” — has left a city and its citizens to be saved by the judiciary from the hands of its executive. Not only has the MCD been guilty of not stopping urban decay but it has also played a proactive role in it. Which makes us ask the question in all seriousness once again: why do we need the MCD at all?

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