The Aam Aadmi Party Thursday raised questions over the BJP-ruled East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) releasing over Rs 5 lakh for Chhath Puja ghats, especially at a time when the civic body has taken several austerity measures to curb its expenses.
The civic body is reeling under a budget deficit of Rs 3,000 crore, resulting in salaries of staff being delayed by over two months. To tide over the crisis, it has sought over Rs 200 crore in loans. The East body had recently issued a circular, stating it will not organise any functions or serve refreshments on any occasion for a year. It also stated that hiring staff cars would be “totally banned” for a year, and that no new posts would be created or any recruitment done during this period.
EDMC standing committee member and AAP councillor Rekha Tyagi said that despite the civic body saying it will not give allowances to officials, so much money was spent on Chhath preparations — when the Delhi government made all necessary arrangements. “The mayor should explain under what head these funds were allocated,” she said.
The Delhi government set up 1,055 ghats across the city for Chhath puja this year. East Delhi Mayor Bipin Bihari Singh, however, said AAP was attacking Purvanchalis by raising questions on fund allocation: “We have not given any money to Chhath samitis; the money was given to EDMC officials to spend on lighting, cleanliness and to make arrangements at the ghats. But AAP doesn’t like money being invested on Purvanchalis.”
The Purvanchali population is dominant in about 16 of the 70 Assembly seats in the capital, as per a survey by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS). On an average, 30% of Delhi’s population is Purvanchali, the survey states.
A senior official of the East Civic body said: “It is a strange situation where councillors of both parties (AAP and BJP) push for better arrangements of Chhath Puja in their wards, but accuse the other party of vote-bank politics.”
Meanwhile, during the standing committee meeting, Dallupura councillor and standing committee member Rajeev Kumar proposed that unauthorised colonies be absolved from paying pending house taxes and pay only the current year’s tax.