‘No need to overhaul a system that works’

Tiwari against merger of civic bodies, wants more efficiency

The Capital can do without a structural overhaul of its existing municipal system as long as it is made more efficient and the cobwebs on its traditional means of revenue generation are dusted off, BJP Delhi chief Manoj Tiwari has told The Hindu.

It was under Mr. Tiwari’s leadership that the ‘Gujarat Model’ — dropping old party faces for new ones — was brought into the Capital for the civic polls, which were held in April this year. Around six months after his party swept all three municipalities, wresting control of 181 of the 272 wards, the Member of Parliament from north-east Delhi said the BJP was taking successive steps at improving the “system” one day at a time.

‘No prior experience’

“Our councillors are facing many challenges, a majority of which stem from the fact that they are new with no prior experience of discharging duties from the office they occupy. At the same time, however, the fresh perspective they bring to the table is proving of immense significance even as we continue to make them undergo regular training,” Mr. Tiwari said.

“We are all working hard towards improving the system by studying the lacunae in it from a basic standpoint. New faces have brought in more transparency and efficiency in functioning. I personally seek and study reports from each ward followed by discussions and the resolution of individual problems on a daily basis,” he added.

The BJP’s 27-page manifesto, or Sankalp Patra (commitment paper), for the civic polls had promised a slew of welfare measures in addition to promising that no new taxes would be levied.

In addition to announcing that it would not increase existing taxes and will make Delhi ‘100% garbage free’, the party had also promised ‘good governance and transparency’ by doing away with inspectors.

“We have kept our promise. No new taxes have been levied and this will continue to be the case. In the meantime, we are trying to bring homes in slum clusters across the city, especially in east Delhi, under the ambit of the House Tax. We are also working on increasing revenue through advertising to feed the financial deficit,” Mr. Tiwari said.

Amnesty scheme

The North Delhi Municipal Corporation’s Standing Committee recently approved a one-time amnesty scheme for the residents of unauthorised neighbourhoods.

Citizens will be able to get their unauthorised houses registered by paying a one-time fee and providing a safety certificate by a registered architect. The scheme is estimated to bring in ₹800 crore in revenue for the civic body.

“On-site disposal of local garbage is an ongoing initiative that we are working on. We are also addressing corruption – strict orders have been issued to all municipal employees to not undertake any demolition of any property under any circumstances, which was the basic means for the extraction of bribes earlier. They can only levy fines. I personally look into complaints of harassment and authorise strict action if any municipal employee is found in the wrong,” he said.

Among the major poll pitches of the BJP in the run-up to the civic polls was the reunification of the three civic bodies for more efficient functioning. The move was being considered more than a possibility if the party retained control of the corporations for a third term.

“Systemic changes take a lot of time and should not be toyed with. What is the need to overhaul a working system (through reunification) if the current system can be made more efficient through dedicated effort?” the Delhi BJP chief said.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 8:30:47 PM |

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