Delhi

Centre to appoint a retired bureaucrat to run Capital’s unified MCD

Headquarters of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation

Headquarters of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation

NEW DELHI:

A retired bureaucrat handpicked by the Centre is likely to be appointed the Special Officer in charge of the unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), according to sources.

This, even as discussions related to the inclusion of political leaders from the party’s Delhi unit in the advisory committee are underway along with a “significant bureaucratic overhaul” in the city after the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 — which reunified the municipal corporations in the city — received the President’s nod earlier this month. 

The selection of members of the advisory body and the constitution of the unified MCD are among the two big developments on this issue likely to take place by the end of this month. Also, by May-end the terms of the erstwhile three civic bodies — the north, east and south — are scheduled to expire.

Sources aware of developments in this regard said the advisory committee was likely to get 50% of its representatives with political backgrounds, while the other half would consist of retired bureaucrats “aware of and adept at” the functioning and administration of the civic body.

“The advisory body will have its task cut out — delivering on an administrative model which outshines the AAP state government’s so-called ‘Delhi Model’ — as soon as it can. That is only possible if the reins of the reunified civic body are helmed together by political and bureaucratic stalwarts,” said a party source.

“The way we see it, the result of this setup will help us in making decisions related to the administration of the Capital that may be taken in future,” a senior party leader said. 

The leader, however, refused to elaborate on these “future decisions”, adding that they would “more or less” revolve around the division of administrative powers shared by the Centre and the Delhi government in relation to governing the National Capital Territory (NCT).

Legal tussle

Incidentally, on Wednesday, during a hearing in the Supreme Court related to the dispute between the Delhi government and itself in relation to the administrative function of the Capital, the Centre submitted that the country’s Capital should be under its control. The Centre told the court, “A metropolis of a large country like ours cannot depend on the small mercies and smaller resources of a State legislature”. 

In the Supreme Court, the Delhi government has contended that the amended sections of the GNCTD Act, notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in April last year, diminish the constitutionally-guaranteed powers and functions of the elected Legislative Assembly of Delhi.

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India, N.V. Ramana, is hearing the Delhi government’s plea to quash the amended sections of the GNCTD Act and several Rules of the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993, and their bearing on the powers, jurisdiction and functioning of the Delhi Legislative Assembly.

‘Semi-political’ body

With the chatter around the possible formation of an advisory committee to the Special Officer, BJP leaders at the municipal level feel that representation of political faces is a must — a point which they claim has been raised in multiple meetings with BJP’s Delhi unit. 

“The absence of councillors, after the term of the house expires, in the ward will lead to chaos because the new officers are not going to deal with micro-level issues of the people. The people will be left without anyone to reach out to for civic issues,” said a BJP source. 

However, according to a senior civic official who has served at the unified civic body, before it was trifurcated in 2012, the absence of political faces in the past has often resulted in better performance. 

“I have served in previous years [mid-1980s] when the corporation was superseded by a special officer. It used to run smoothly. The problem with councillors and the political wing is that we always face resistance from them whenever it comes to the implementation part,” the official said.

He gave the instance of house tax rates, which, he said, had not been raised since 2004 due to the pressure from the political wing.

However, he added, “One cannot rule out the possibility of an advisory committee, because the BJP needs to ensure that no unpopular decision is taken by the unified corporation, as BJP has to eventually go for elections.”

According to a senior BJP leader, the Capital’s seven Lok Sabha MPs were likely to be linked to the advisory committee. Moreover, the Members of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund — which is given to each MP for development-related works in their constituency — could come into play at the municipal level in future.


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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 11:50:10 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/centre-to-appoint-a-retired-bureaucrat-to-run-capitals-unified-mcd/article65373707.ece