With Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi intervening over splitting of MCD, an issue on which the party and the Delhi Government were at loggerheads, a decision was today taken to divide the civic body into three parts.
A Delhi Cabinet meeting, presided over by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, today tweaked its earlier “in principle” decision of splitting the MCD into five parts and decided to keep the number of wards at 272 instead of 409 as planned earlier.
Sources said the “middle path” was arrived at following intervention of Ms. Gandhi as a section of the Congress including DPCC chief J P Aggarwal was opposed to the move of dividing the MCD into five parts and increasing the number of wards before next year’s municipal polls.
“We have decided to split MCD into three parts - North, East and South. Number of wards will remain at 272 and 50 per cent of the wards will be reserved for women instead of current 33 per cent,” Ms. Dikshit said after the Cabinet meeting.
The Chief Minister, who had faced severe criticism from within Congress for the original proposal, said the move was aimed at offering its citizens better municipal services.
Ms. Dikshit said a proposal to split the civic body will be sent to Home Ministry within a week and on getting the required approval, a bill will be brought before the Delhi Assembly, most likely in its monsoon session.
As per the proposal, the new civic bodies in North and South Delhi will have 104 wards each while the civic body in East Delhi will have 64 wards.
Both North and South Delhi municipality will have 26 assembly constituencies each while the 16 assembly segments will fall under the East Delhi municipality.
“A middle path has been found to resolve the issue,” said AICC general secretary in-charge of Delhi Birender Singh who had held several rounds of discussions with Ms. Dikshit, Mr. Aggarwal, party MLAs, councillors and DPCC office bearers.
Last month, the Cabinet had accepted recommendations of a high-level committee, headed by Health Minister A K Walia, which suggested splitting the civic body into five smaller municipalities. The committee had also suggested increasing the total number of wards from the current 272 to around 408.
The “in principle” decision by the Cabinet was opposed tooth and nail by a section of the party arguing that it will badly affect the party in the upcoming municipal polls.
Ms. Dikshit said a four-member committee of officials have been appointed to finalise rules of functioning for the new bodies. The committee has been given a week’s time to frame the rules.
The members are Finance Secretary D M Spolia, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister M M Kutty, Law Secretary S P Garg and Urban Development Secretary R K Srivastava. The committee has been asked to file its report in three-four days.
“After getting the approval from the Centre, we will introduce the bill in the Monsoon Session of Assembly,” Ms. Dikshit said.
Officials said all the three bodies will have separate mayors and deputy mayors besides having municipal commissioners and their functioning will be coordinated by a high-level committee to be headed by the Chief Minister.
Sources said the Cabinet decision came hours after a green signal was received from the party High Command for splitting the body.
Ms. Dikshit said senior leaders including Gandhi were consulted before taking the decision.
“We discussed the issue with several senior leaders. The party high command was also consulted,” Ms. Dikshit said adding that she was happy with the decision.
“I am happy because the decision will have far reaching impact on improving the civic services in the city,” she said.
A high-level meeting early this month among Ms. Dikshit, Ms. Gandhi’s Political Secretary Ahmed Patel, AICC General Secretary Singh and Aggarwal, failed to arrive at a consensus on the issue and left it to the party chief to take a final decision.
Officials said North Zone of the civic body will cover areas such as Badli, Rithala, Bawana, Kirari, Mangolpuri, Tri nagar, Model Town, Sadar Bazar, Chandni Chowk, Matia Mahal, Karol Bagh, Moti Nagar; while East Zone body will comprise areas such as Patparganj, Kondli, Laxmi Nagar, Seemapuri, Gonda, Karawal Nagar, Babarpur and Shahadra.
The South Zone civic body will have jurisdiction over South and West Delhi areas including Mahipalpur, Rajouri Garden, Janakpuri, Hari Nagar, Tilak Nagar, Dwarka, Jungpura, Greater Kailash, R K Puram, Malvya Nagar, Kalkaji, Ambedkar Nagar and Badarpur.
The total population under the proposed North zone areas has been estimated at 52.84 lakh while the population under the East Zone has been estimated at 32.29 lakh. The population under the South Zone has been estimated at 49.17 lakh.