The financial dispute between the north and south municipal corporations over the use of office premises Friday came up in the Delhi Assembly, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal calling it a “bigger scam” than the irregularities that marred the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the capital when Congress was in power.
At the heart of the dispute is the SDMC’s usage of the NDMC headquarters in central Delhi since 2012, when the Municipal Corporation of Delhi was trifurcated. The NDMC’s standing committee has in the past claimed that the SDMC owes it Rs 2,457 crore as rent, but subsequently changed its position on the matter, saying no such dues are made out as per official guidelines.
However, the AAP has been demanding a CBI probe into the matter, alleging that the north body illegally waived the amount that the south corporation owed to it as rent. After Kejriwal’s speech, the Assembly adopted a resolution seeking a probe by the central agency.
“This is the biggest scam in Delhi’s history. People are saying this Rs 2,500 crore scam is bigger than the Congress’s CWG scam. This just relates to one corporation. God knows how much money they have siphoned in the last 15 years,” Kejriwal said. The BJP governs all the three corporations in Delhi.
The AAP had suffered a defeat in the 2017 municipal polls. Hoping to wrest control of the civic bodies from the BJP in 2022, the AAP has been aggressively raising matters related to mismanagement of the corporations over the last few months.
In his speech, the CM claimed that the Rs 2,500 crore, allegedly misappropriated, could have been utilised to add 7,500 beds in government hospitals and construct 12,500 mohalla clinics. It could also have been used to pay arrears to sanitation workers and wages to healthcare workers, he said.
Healthcare workers of MCD-run hospitals as well as sanitation workers have staged numerous protests, including during the pandemic, demanding wages and arrears. The matter had also reached the Delhi High Court.
“When they become councillors, they own bicycles. In a few years, they roam around in big cars, stay in bungalows. They loot taxpayers’ money. Every person on the street is aware about corruption in the MCDs and everyone knows that the Delhi government is clean. The people of Delhi have two models two choose from — AAP’s model of governance and BJP’s model in the MCDs,” Kejriwal said.
The North MCD has released a paper trail in a bid to reject the charges made by the AAP. It has said that previous orders, made by the Cabinet and the director of local bodies in the past, makes it clear that the SDMC owes nothing to the North DMC in terms of rent or license free for using its headquarters.
During the debate, AAP MLAs hung a large banner, inscribed with the allegation, from the visitors’ gallery of the House. AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj, who tabled the resolution, said the mayors of the corporations are on a “fake hunger strike” outside the CM residence.
Kejriwal also raised the matter of Delhi Police detaining AAP MLAs Raghav Chadha and Atishi, who had earlier this week tried to meet Home Minister Amit Shah and Lt-Governor Anil Baijal over the matter. “Look at him (Chadha).
Does he look like a goon? He is an innocent, honest child… Had he (Shah) allowed Raghav to have a cup of tea with him, what harm could Raghav do?” he said.
On Atishi, Kejriwal said, “Atishi, who is globally acclaimed for her work in the field of education, is an elected MLA. She was dragged like a criminal and put in a bus when she went to meet the L-G… why don’t you let CBI inquire into the issue?”
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