The Delhi government held a “brain-storming” session with heads of all its departments and local bodies last week, to find solutions to the cash-crunch that the civic bodies are facing.
Sources told Newsline that the Urban Development (UD) department suggested that primary schools and hospitals under the control of the municipal corporations be brought under the purview of the Delhi government to rid the civic bodies of their financial burden.
“The North corporation has health and primary school education expenses worth Rs 500 crore and Rs 1,400 crore respectively. There has been a deficit in the last three years. Ideally, after the Right to Education Act was enacted, the control of primary schools should have been transferred to the Delhi government. There is one corporation-run hospital in East Delhi and five in North Delhi. If roads of more than 60 feet were taken from the civic bodies, why not hospitals?” a department official said.
Another suggestion by the department was that the organisational boundaries of corporations should be “coterminous” with those of the 11 revenue districts in order to increase competition amongst them. “There should be 11 municipal corporations with mayors-in-council and their boundaries should be coterminous — corresponding with those of police and sub-divisional magistrate boundaries — in accordance with the Assembly constituencies,” UD secretary and director of local bodies, Narendra Kumar, said.
Officials also suggested that the Swaraj Bill — that is a part of the AAP’s 70-point action plan intended to devolve power to gram sabhas and mohalla sabhas — can be “dog tailed” with one Act. This way, officials said, there will be no need to restructure power distribution if corporations are thus divided.
In order to create a robust revenue generation model for the civic bodies, the department also suggested that it needs to re-categorise properties to recover increased house tax. It also said the North and South corporations need to rectify and upgrade their records to increase lease and rental charges and to build remunerative assets on their land.
The department also said that while a decision to regularise unauthorised colonies is awaited, corporations must register them and start collecting taxes “so that there is some semblance of order”.
Other suggestions included levying charges on vehicles parked on streets overnight, allocating the Motor Vehicle tax and entertainment tax collections to MCDs, scrapping archaic departments within corporations and enforcing a scheme to govern street vendors, sources said.
The UD department formulates policy, provides funds, monitors and coordinates the activities of the urban local bodies.