NEW DELHI: As the nation’s capital nears the crucial municipal elections due in April next year, a war of words has ensued over the BJP-led MCDs approaching the Financial Aid Center to overcome the serious financial crisis that the three civic organs are going through.
Having failed to pay the salaries of their staff, which has sparked repeated strikes in protest, leaders of the civic body approached the Union’s finance ministry two weeks ago, requesting financial assistance from the Center. extends to municipalities in all states. However, the request was denied, with the Finance Ministry clarifying that the stipulated fund of Rs 488 per person per year goes to state municipal bodies, not Union Territories.
The Aam Aadmi Party, which is the main opposition in all three societies, has targeted the BJP, saying that while civic bodies in Ghaziabad and Gurugram can secure the funds, the Center should not ignore Delhi and Chandigarh.
A senior finance ministry official, who asked not to be named, said there was no provision for allocating financial assistance to municipal bodies in Union Territories. âEvery year we release these funds to all state governments for the development of municipal agencies there. But as the municipal authorities of the Union territories are not eligible, we can only distribute if the eligibility conditions are modified â, he declared.
Senior AAP leader and party MCD official Durgesh Pathak said MCD officials should ask the Center how the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) – the civic body of Mumbai – is different from those in the national capital. âThe leaders of the BJP in Delhi lack conviction and determination. Whenever they have the opportunity to interact with union ministers belonging to their party, they simply want to please them instead of talking to them about the financial distress facing municipal authorities. The point is that the Center has never given a single penny in financial aid to CDMs. In addition, central agencies owe thousands of crores due to civic agencies such as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) having to pay ??1,300 crore to South MCD, and ??2,800 crore to North MCD, âhe said.
Pathak alleged that the BJP had turned civic bodies into a “white elephant”. âThere are a number of areas where the BJP-led MCDs have not been successful. Garbage piles and mountain-like landfills are common sites in the nation’s capital. Over the past few years, Kejriwal’s government has proven that it can provide better facilities for the people of Delhi as it has provided free electricity and water to everyone. Even the unauthorized settlements received basic amenities. On the other hand, employees and retirees of the three MCDs must protest for their salaries and contributions. The BJP does not have a roadmap to bring MCDs out of bankruptcy, âhe said.
Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta countered that the AAP should ask its Delhi government about the dues it owes MCDs, instead of targeting the Center. “If the AAP says that the Center does not provide financial assistance to MCDs, they should better ask this question to the government of Kejriwal, as these funds are disbursed through the state government,” a- he said, adding that no requisition for this fund had been made by the Delhi government.
BK Oberoi, chairman of the MCD South standing committee, said municipalities do not believe in “deceiving people by giving gifts”. âWe are exploring ways to meet our expenses. When it comes to collecting DDA dues or paying rent to North MCD, everything is done in accordance with the law, âhe said.
The Congress, which has only 31 members out of a total of 215 councilors in the three corporations, blamed both the BJP and the ruling AAP for the grim situation in municipal bodies.
Delhi Vice President of Congress and SDMC Advisor Abhishek Dutt said the two parties are two sides of the same coin. âThese two parties have never given priority to such issues for discussion in the House. As a result of this blame game between the two parties, the employees as well as the common people have remained on the side of the recipients, âhe said.
The three civic bodies have been in financial trouble since the MCD was split into three, and have struggled to implement new projects and pay staff salaries, resulting in strikes. As the 2022 municipal elections approached, the BJP, which has headed the three civic bodies for 15 years, has come under severe attack from the opposition who blamed the crisis on mismanagement and widespread corruption within civil society. body.
The municipal elections in Delhi are crucial for the three main candidates – for the BJP, it will be a big test if it manages to retain power despite huge opposition to power; for the AAP, it will be the last frontier in its attempt to take full administrative control of Delhi after humiliating its political opponents in two consecutive ballots; and for Congress, it will be another election where it will have to fight to regain the space it was able to cede to its rivals in 2013.