Staff Reporter

Nomination of former Chief Secretary Saigal raises eyebrows

NEW DELHI: In keeping with the directions of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Union Government on Wednesday constituted two committees for restructuring the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and to address the issue of multiplicity of authority in the Capital.

While the Committee on MCD is headed by former Chief Secretary Omesh Saigal, the other is headed by former Principal Secretary (Transport) Ashok Pradhan.

The nomination of Mr. Saigal, who purportedly was not on good terms with Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as the Chief Secretary of Delhi, has come as a surprise in Congress and Delhi Government circles as he is not only considered close to former Chief Minister Madan Lal Khurana but also was the leading brain in "Delhi BJP think tank" in the run-up to the December 2003 Assembly polls which prepared the Vision 2003 document for Mr. Khurana.

The Committee that would suggest restructuring of the MCD includes the Union Home Secretary or his representative; the Union Urban Development Secretary or his representative; the Municipal Affairs secretary of the West Bengal Government; and V.N. Alok from the Indian Institute of Public Administration. The Principal Secretary (Urban Development), O.P. Kelkar, will be the Member Secretary.

The Saigal Committee would also study previous reports submitted by the Balakrishnan Committee and the Virendra Prakash Committee on the issue of restructuring of MCD in the context of the current situation; examine the comparative advantages of having one Corporation in the whole of Delhi; look at the financial and administrative viability of smaller Corporations and suggest changes that are required in the existing law for the purpose of restructuring. It would submit its report in two months.

The Ashok Pradhan Committee would look into the issue of multiplicity of authority dealing with urban development in Delhi. The Committee, which has been asked to submit its report within four weeks, will identify authorities/agencies which are discharging various functions in relation to urban development in Delhi; determine their respective roles, responsibilities, inter-relationships and existing arrangements for coordination; and contribution made by these agencies in the development of Delhi.

It will also look into issues related to urban growth and identify alternative mechanism that can deal with the problem in Delhi more effectively.

Other members of the committee are Union Home Secretary or his representative; Union Urban Development Secretary or his representative; Delhi Chief Secretary S. Regunathan; and Dr. Kanika Bhal, Associate Professor of Management Studies at IIT, Delhi. Mr. Kelkar will also be the Member Secretary of this Committee.