MCD promises on amenities remain unfulfilled

NEW DELHI, DEC. 6. As the Municipal Commissioner, Rakesh Mehta, prepares to present his third consecutive annual budget of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi later this week, several promises made by him about an year ago and approved by the civic body for improving civic amenities remain unfulfilled.

Topping the list is the series of environmental improvement schemes announced by Mr. Mehta during his budget presentation on December 3, 2003, before the Standing Committee. Important projects like "Zero Waste Management System" involving private players, development of three Engineered Landfill Sites at Jaitpur, Bawana and Burari and management the stray cattle have moved at a snail's pace. This is mainly because of the infighting in the ruling Congress and the continuing "cold war" between the Delhi Government and the civic body.

While the issue of partial privatisation of solid waste management was held up by the MCD for months -- which the Congress leaders attributed to the "indecisiveness" at the top level -- there have been frequent changes in the policies of the civic body when it came to tackling the menace of stray cattle. The Municipal Commissioner's announcement on December 3 last year to remove all stray cattle from the roads of Capital within one year still seems to be a distant dream. The civic body which was forced to abandon its "plan" to remove stray cattle and auction them in the neighbouring cities because of political pressure, is now trying its best to resettle them in an authorised dairy colony in Ghogha. At the pace at which it is being developed, it would take at least a few years to become operational.

As for its Zero Waste Management System, the MCD so far has succeeded in entering into an agreement with private players for six of the 12 zones. But it is unlikely to take off before July next year. With garbage not being lifted for days together in many colonies, even entering into an agreement with private players is being considered as an achievement by the officials and elected representatives.

The MCD is yet to initiate any concrete step for wastewater management, which Mr. Mehta had said required to be given top priority in view of the `depleting water levels' in the Capital. The civic body is yet to start the five pilot projects that were to be started this fiscal year at Shahdara Lake, Sanjay Lake, Sonia Vihar, Vasant Vihar and Jehangirpuri. The civic body had kept aside a fund of Rs. 3 crores for decentralisation of wastewater treatment system in the Capital.

Bogged down by raids at the offices of its Horticulture Department, the MCD has not been able to make much progress in the field of management of parks and greens. The MCD has not been able to maintain standards of the parks given to the residents' welfare associations and private players, while the condition of those maintained by it has deteriorated. Mr. Mehta's announcement in the last budget to involve ex-servicemen is yet to be implemented. It is the strict directives of the Supreme Court, which is likely to modernise the relocate the Idgah Slaughter House and modernise it at Ghazipur in East Delhi.

However, the MCD seems to have fared much better when it comes to implementing its welfare schemes compared with the environmental improvement projects. Though the quality of its social welfare projects have always raised a number of questions, the MCD has been "successful" in providing cooked mid-day meal to all its students, starting computer education and launching a society for welfare of widows of municipal employees. These schemes were announced in the last budget.

Except for fulfilling its promise to replace tents by porta type cabins, the infrastructure projects promised by Mr. Mehta in his previous budget is far behind schedule, be it the construction of modern car parking system, completion or construction of its zonal office buildings and the ambitious Civic Centre, besides the district centre at RBTB Hospital.

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