A nine-member Delhi Assembly panel has recommended a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) inquiry against the BJP-led municipal corporations for alleged “diversion” of over Rs 2,000 crore, collected from traders as conversion and parking charges to shield them from sealing.
The committee’s report on Municipal Corporations in Delhi — on issues arising out of the sealing drive against commercial establishments — was prepared following nine meetings between January 2018 and February 2019, in the presence of top officials of the Urban Development Department and municipal commissioners. The committee, chaired by AAP MLA Bhavna Gaur, adopted the report in its February 20 meeting.
“The Government of NCT of Delhi should refer to CVC to conduct an inquiry into the issue of illegal diversion of funds collected on account of conversion/parking charges… by the municipal corporation concerned, ascertain names of the officers/officials responsible, and recommend suitable disciplinary action against them… to this House within three months,” it states.
The charges in question
Conversion charge is paid by owners of commercial firms to a civic body to change land use from residential to mixed to avoid sealing. Parking charge is a penalty for not having adequate parking spaces in establishments such as restaurants or pubs. As per norms, the fund made up of these charges can be used only for developing parking sites, augmentation of infrastructure and environmental improvement.
Between 2012 and January 31, 2019, the North Corporation received Rs 1,004.36 crore in conversion charges and Rs 144.56 crore as parking charges. The committee could account for expenditure of Rs 976.98 crore, going by the North body’s records, of which Rs 947.84 crore went into meeting establishment costs.
“The reasons for discrepancy in reconciliation of complete accounts and diversion of funds from Escrow Account on establishment expenditure have not been furnished,” the committee noted.
A senior North body official said they are yet to go through the report but added that salaries, which are part of establishment expenditure, were paid from normal funds last month.
During the same period, the south MCD received Rs 1,554.14 crore as conversion and parking charges and incurred an expenditure of Rs 87.89 crore. “Details of the remaining account of Rs 1,466.25 crore have not been furnished…, leading to a reasonable apprehension of illegal diversion… of funds…,” the report said.
South MCD Commissioner Puneet Goel said the civic body has not spent conversion charges on salaries. Another official said the Rs 1,200 crore which the South body has in the Escrow Account is used only for market development and parking.
In case of the east body, which collected Rs 439.24 crore, Rs 23.34 crore was spent in developing parking sites, while Rs 333.76 crore was transferred as a temporary loan for incurring expenditure on salaries of sanitation workers. The civic body told the committee it had to do so as the Delhi government did not implement the fifth finance commission’s recommendations. But the committee accused the east DMC of “misleading” it, saying the Assembly has passed the same.
East MCD Mayor Bipin Bihari Singh said, “I will have to enquire from the accounts department on how the money is being used… If at all it was used to pay salaries, it’s because we are unable to pay sanitation workers… the Delhi government is not paying what is due to us.”
“It is disturbing to note here that none of the MCDs have submitted the complete Assembly constituency-wise details of conversion and parking charges collected by them from the beginning till date. Expenditure information has also not been provided. It appears there is misuse of conversion/parking charges collected, and any event of fraud cannot be ruled out…,” it said.