BJP LEADER Davesh Moudgil’s one-year tenure as UT Mayor comes to an end on December 31. Right from the moment when he was declared a mayoral candidate last year till recently when he was present at another BJP member Sahdev Salaria’s birthday party where gunshots were fired, Moudgil has had a turbulent tenure.
He remained at the receiving end of not only from the opposition but also from the fellow councillors of his own party.
Soon after being elected to the post, Moudgil had promised to get additional water of 29 MGD of water to the city by April 30 this year. He promised that the parking rates in the city shall not be hiked, assured proper management of street vendors and ensured to implement segregation of waste at household level. But as his term nears the end, all such promises are yet to be completed.
He even paid a visit with UT Administrator V P Singh Badnore to Jandpur to review the Kajauli water project. But the deadlines were revised for completion of the project and the fresh date of completion is December 30.
The 41-year-old Moudgil held his ground that he would not let the parking rates be hiked, even as he faced immense opposition from the corporation’s officers. But eventually could not succeed and the parking rates were doubled.
On the parking rates issue, Moudgil had a standoff with the then commissioner Jitender Yadav. While Yadav constituted a committee of officers that approved the parking fee hike on the contention that the “smart parking facilities” existed in the parking lots, Moudgil constituted a parallel committee of councillors that gave a contradictory view and held that the smart parking facilities did not exist on the ground. But the parking fee was hiked.
Moudgil then even got the agenda in the Finance and Contract Committee panel for rollback of the rates from Rs 20 to Rs 10 for a four-wheeler and Rs 10 to Rs 5 for a two-wheeler and directed the MC to take over possession of parking lots. Just after a day, the company managing the parking lots was given the possession again with the hiked rates after the company approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court and got relief.
The mayor’s efforts to take over garbage collection in the city so that segregation at household level be implemented failed too. After an “in-principle approval” to the proposal in September, what followed was a strike for 21 days by door-to-door garbage collectors that forced Moudgil to succumb to the pressure and MC could never take over the garbage collection in the city. The agenda came in November 30th house meeting again but was deferred again on the plea that public suggestion needs to be invited.
Councillors from Chandigarh BJP chief Sanjay Tandon’s camp too did not leave any opportunity to target Moudgil who is considered close to local MP Kirron Kher and former union minister Satya Pal Jain.
“In every House meeting, they [BJP councillors] wanted to do something that brought him [Moudgil] in negative light in the media. Whatever he suggested, they spoke completely opposite to it,” a councillor who supports Moudgil told Newsline.
Tandon, however, indicated that Moudgil could not take everybody along. “He should have done a little more to take everybody along, so that differences of opinion are not marked as groupism.”
One area in which Moudgil managed to succeed was taking care of the corporation’s financial crunch. The MC faced its worst financial crisis this year. With almost nil fixed deposits and no other revenue generation, MC had got into its worst phase this year. Development agendas were stalled, recarpeting of roads stopped and other projects too got affected due to paucity of funds. But his consistent efforts brought in additional funds of Rs 132 crore from the Chandigarh Administration.
Chairman of Federations of Sectors Welfare association of Chandigarh Baljinder Singh Bittu said, “BJP’s own internal politics did not let him [Moudgil] work. As a result, the city suffered. We all feel he wanted to work for the city but they [detractors] kept opposing him on each step. Also, I feel that the tenure of one year for the Mayor is too less and is not sufficient to carry out development works. By the time, files start moving, Mayor’s tenure comes to an end.”
Chandigarh Congress chief Pardeep Chhabra said, “Not a single development work was carried out this year. What city residents got was hike in parking rates and water bills. Every time BJP gets its Mayor, they are initially very enthusiastic to work for the city’s welfare. But by the time their tenure ends, the city residents are left burdened with excess taxes.”
“Not just hike in taxes, but 30 per cent sewerage cess was also imposed on city residents. Mayor’s term has been a complete failure,” Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla added.