The Delhi government had set up the District Urban Development Authority (DUDA) to decentralise the work of area development across the city.
What prompted you to raise a question about the delays caused by DUDA in the assembly?
The DUDA was set up by the Delhi government to decentralise work carried out by the government’s urban development department with a view to ease the process of sanctions for projects undertaken by MLAs. The setting up of the DUDA meant each revenue district would have its own authority. Every MLA would not have to go to the UD department for sanctions; he or she would have it in their revenue district. However, in my experience, this has led to delays in sanctioning of MLA work as the procedure for obtaining sanctions has become very lengthy.
The proposal moves from the assistant engineer to sub-divisional magistrate to additional district magistrate to district magistrate to the divisional commissioner to the concerned secretaries in the UD department. Earlier, we only had to go to the UD department and they would sanction projects in 10-12 days. Now it takes months.
Which of your projects have been stalled owing to the procedural delays in the DUDA?
There are two projects that have been stalled. One was the installation of CCTV cameras that I wanted to do using MLA funds. I had prepared a cost estimate of Rs 2 crore and submitted it to the DUDA three months ago. But it has not received sanction. The other one was that of procuring fogging machines for fumigation of local areas for prevention of dengue. While fumigation is carried out by the MCD, aggrieved people come to us requesting fumigation. So I wanted to procure eight fogging machines and I needed eight persons to carry out the work. An estimate of Rs 5.5 lakh was drawn up for this but it has been pending since April 1. Four other MLAs have faced similar situations.
How do you think this problem can be resolved?
There are two options. Either more officers need to be appointed to strengthen the DUDA. The officers presently assigned the task are fatigued or at the verge of retirement. As Delhi MLAs, we have responsibilities without rights. If we are stern with the officers, the possibility of an FIR against us is always lurking. The other option is to centralise the process again. There was one experienced officer in the UD department who was tasked with granting sanctions for MLA projects. At that time, sanctions would never take more than 10 to 12 days. Sometimes, they would be issued on the spot. The DUDA was created to ease processes, but a year since its introduction, we are realising its shortcomings.
What is the action you expect from the government?
I know how Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia works and I am sure he will order swift action in this matter. I am assured he will take the necessary measures to rectify the functioning of the DUDA.