The three municipal corporations of Delhi, headed for polls on April 23, have inaugurated over 60 projects in the last three months at a total cost of over Rs 744 crore. Between January 1 this year and March 14, when the model code of conduct came into force, the three MCDs have inaugurated long-pending projects such as a disaster management centre, 16 schools (mostly primary), seven community centres, two stadiums and a mini stadium. The biggest project among these is the Narela-Bawana waste-to-energy plant, built at a cost of Rs 458 crore and inaugurated by Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu on March 10. Before January this year, only a single project — a digitisation initiative — was launched in December and no projects were launched in November.
Although finances of at least two out of the three corporations have been a matter of concern for over a year — with both the North and East corporations struggling to pay salaries to its employees — they have spent Rs 605.91 crore and Rs 19.86 crore on 40 projects respectively. The inaugurations mostly concern infrastructure projects, and include several projects that were completed in a last-minute push for development as the BJP’s five-year term ends on April 31. These include newly constructed recreation centres, polyclinics, parking spaces and more. While MCD office bearers from the ruling party admit to the last-minute push for developmental projects, they also insist that many of these projects have been in the pipeline and were nearing completion.
“At the end of the term, there are councillor funds and other discretionary funds that are spent on various projects. Commissioners also have funds that are distributed for various projects,” said Prawesh Wahi, Chairman, standing committee in the North Delhi Municipal Corporation. Standing committee chairman in the South, Shailender Singh Monty, said since bigger projects take longer time for various clearances, many have been inaugurated towards the end of the financial year. Meanwhile, the opposition has called it “a last-minute effort to dupe the people.”
Leader of the Opposition in the South, Farhad Suri, said that they (ruling BJP) made no investments in infrastructure in the last five years, and “then they realised they are nearing the end of their tenure, they have gone on a spree of inaugurations”. Projects in the South include a new West Zone Headquarters, open gyms, a science museum, dog sterilisation centres and two multi-level parkings.