Three months after the civic polls were held in the capital, the three municipal corporations of Delhi are facing a policy paralysis as its highest decision-making body — the standing committee — is yet to be formed. In the North corporation, for instance, purchase of medicines for all civic hospitals are pending while the decision to start a post graduate course at the Hindu Rao Hospital is also pending a nod from the standing committee.
This is because members to the committee are selected via zonal elections, which have been delayed as zonal boundaries are yet to be notified by the Delhi government. The statutory and ad-hoc committees — which drive policy — are yet to be constituted as well. According to officials, only routine civic functions are being carried out. MCDs have three categories of committees — statutory, special and adhoc.
The standing committee, education committee and rural area committee are statutory committees.
Anti-flood, anti-malaria and women’s welfare are ad hoc committees while works, appointments, medical relief and public health come under special committees. Officials execute decisions based on deliberations and approvals from these committees. While there are some decisions that the mayor is authorised to give anticipatory approvals for, all financial sanctions need clearance from the deliberative wing. Both the North and East civic bodies have been struggling to keep up with their primary functions owing to a continuing financial crisis.
With expenditure exceeding income, officials said developmental work has been low on priority as bills pile up. In this backdrop, the lack of a deliberative wing to drive policy, such as revision of parking rates or maintenance of properties, will only make matters worse for the corporations.
Former Delhi mayor and leader of the opposition, Farhad Suri (Congress) told The Indian Express that apart from the policy paralysis, the deliberative wing serves as a check on the executive and vice-versa and in the lack of one, the other has a free hand. “This is also about one-upmanship between the BJP and the AAP… The people of Delhi are suffering because of their politicking,” Suri said.
However, a state government spokesperson said, “Why does delimitation of wards impact the MCDs’ work? The process in cases like this is that the proposal is sent to the government, and then the urban development department and the law department go through it. If there is a delay, it is because there are problems in their proposal. This should not stop the MCD from doing the work of sanitation and cleanliness, which is their primary mandate.”