With Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Friday accusing the BJP-controlled North Delhi Municipal Corporation of “callousness” that led to disconnection of street lighting in the area by Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited, Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel hit back accusing the Congress regime at the Centre, which controls the municipal bodies through the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, of not intervening in the matter in time to ensure safety and security of citizens on the roads and playing dirty politics over the issue.

Mr. Goel charged that TPDDL had been charging commercial rates for street lighting when ideally it fell under the category of utilities. “They increased the rate from Rs.4.65 per unit to Rs.7.25 per unit and while the North DMC has been paying the basic amount the arrears pertained to the increased costs, which should not have been levied in the first place,’’ he said.

Earlier in the day, while addressing a meeting at the inauguration of reconstruction work on six roads in Ballimaran constituency of Delhi Power Minister Haroon Yusuf, Ms. Dikshit had acknowledged that disruption of power supply in the areas of North DMC due to non-payment of outstanding dues to TPDDL had resulted in darkness on the streets.

“It was a major security risk and people were at risk of being targeted by anti-social elements,’’ she said.

Ms. Dikshit also referred to the call issued by Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal to the people to avoid making payment of electricity bills, stating that people have not even bothered to listen to the appeal.

Coming back to the North DMC issue, Ms. Dikshit said it was supposed to make a payment of just Rs.44 crore for consumption of electricity used in street lighting. While the Corporation had sufficient funds at its disposal, she said, it decided not to pay despite agreeing to do so in a meeting with the Delhi Government. Stating that the Delhi Government had been striving hard to ensure uniform development across the city, Ms. Dikshit reminded the people of the days when power cuts were common thing . “There is bound to be a difference in the bills for power supplied for eight hour and when you get uninterrupted power supply for 24 hours,’’ she quipped.

During the meeting, Union Minister and Chandni Chowk MP Kapil Sibal also attacked the opposition BJP describing MCD as “Maha Chor (biggest thief) Department’’.

Responding to this, Mr. Goel said if indeed this was the case, why did the Delhi Government or the Congress Government at the Centre not think of disbanding it all together? “The Director of Local Bodies and three DMC Commissioners all report to Ministry of Home Affairs and are appointed by the Centre in consultation with the Delhi Government. Then why are the Corporations alone being blamed? As MP, Mr. Sibal is also a member of the North DMC but has he ever bothered to attend a single meeting of the Corporation? The real issue is that this is an election year and instead of acting as a mediator in the power issue, the Delhi Government wanted to aggravate it for political gains.’’

Mr. Goel also questioned how much work had Mr. Sibal done in his constituency. “We have both been MPs of Chandni Chowk, ask the people who worked more for them,’’ he said.

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