The Congress on Monday came out with a blueprint to restructure the three cash-strapped civic bodies and said these would be made “financially self-reliant” if it manages to wrest power from the BJP in the municipal polls. The draft plan was unveiled by former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia in Delhi, as the party is eyeing a comeback in the civic elections after severe drubbing in the last Delhi Assembly elections in which it drew a blank.
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“Delhi is a metropolitan city, a megalopolis. And administering a city of this scale is not the same as managing any other city. We must first accept that it’s a different league.
“Having said that… People derive great hopes from municipal corporations and I think the jury is still out on it (MCD). Each of the three municipal corporations run by one party, are racing to the bottom. Each one competing with the other to be the worst municipality,” Chidambaram said.
The former Union minister then quoted from the draft blueprint to buttress his point. “So, if we look at the arrears to sanitation workers, the EDMC has to give Rs 461.83 crore. Then the SDMC says, I am better with Rs 547.30 crore and then the NDMC decided to be the ‘best’ saying, the arrears stand at Rs 550 crore. It’s a race to hit the bottom first,” he alleged.
The draft blueprint also envisages a Rs 2,000 crore annual fund for development of infrastructure-deficit areas, particularly the unauthorised colonies. The former finance minister said unlike other big corporations, which generate more than 50 per cent of the revenue from property tax collection, the MCD is doing just about 40 per cent.
“Both tax and non-tax revenue collection in Delhi are unfortunately, far below par. Non-tax revenue through areas like advertising and parking can definitely be boosted and the draft proposes that as well. “Delhi is a flourishing city, per capita income is the highest, Chandigarh is close, which means people have aspirations to live a life of dignity. And people will pay if they have faith that the money will be spent wisely,” he said.
Chidambaram emphasised that the draft has been worked out by experienced administrators, specialists and economists and experts and urban planners. Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken said the plan would be in public domain through the party’s Facebook page where people can offer suggestions for the next 10 days.
“I invite experts and layman, both to be part of this exercise as we plan to radically restructure Delhi (MCD). Ultimately the plan must be something the people must adopt and accept… And, in 10 years through this plan, we will make Delhi a world-class city,” Chidambaram said.
Alleging that three civic bodies were left with a “blank balance instead of a bank balance”, Scindia said, the “poor administration by the MCD is not just a matter of concern for Delhi, but all citizens of the country.”