Standing body takes Govt. head-on

NEW DELHI, JUNE 1. The Standing Committee, which is the most powerful deliberative wing of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, today entered into a direct confrontation with the Delhi Government. Both are being ruled by the Congress.

A week after the Delhi Cabinet in its meeting chaired by the Chief Minister, Sheila Dikhit, gave its approval "in principle" for trifurcation of the MCD, the Standing Committee in an unanimous resolution opposed any division of the Corporation. The resolution was moved by the Leader of the House, Satbir Singh, and seconded by Sanjay Puri, the Congress Councillor from Janakpuri. "The Standing Committee opposes MCD's trifurcation," the resolution said.

The Councillors also pulled up the Municipal Commissioner, Rakesh Mehta, for making a presentation before the Delhi Cabinet on the MCD's trifurcation. "Such a proposal should have been brought before the Standing Committee for discussion," observed the Deputy Chairman of the Standing Committee, Ashok Jain. "Without taking the Councillors into confidence, how can the Commissioner go to the Cabinet?" asked Hem Chand Goel, the Congress Councillor from Badarpur.

The issue was, however, first raised by the Leader of Opposition in Standing Committee, Vijender Kumar Gupta, who wanted a statement from the Municipal Commissioner, Rakesh Mehta, in this regard.

Stating that if there was any such proposal it should be first brought before the MCD for deliberations, Mr. Puri urged the Standing Committee Chairman, Mukesh Goel, to set up a sub-committee to discuss and form a opinion on this crucial matter. Mr. Mehta, who wanted to speak on the issue, was virtually heckled by the Councillors, who said that his views were not important as the resolution had been passed. However, despite opposition from the Councillors, Mr. Mehta said the presentation made by him was not his. "It was prepared by the Urban Development Secretary. As he was absent that day, so I made the presentation before the Delhi Cabinet on his behalf. So this is not my proposal," he said.

While, Mr. Jain and Mr. Hemchand Goel feared that the civic administration in Delhi might deteriorate further if the MCD was trifurcated and that such a decision was being taken in haste, Mr. Puri pointed out that creation of smaller civic bodies was part of the Congress poll manifesto.

Alleging that the MCD was being divided to give more powers to the Delhi Government and the bureaucracy, Mr. Gupta demanded a Mayor's-in-Council, a long pending demand of the BJP. The Congress Councillor, Ajit Chaudhry, suggested the views of Councillors should be solicited before taking such a decision. He expressed surprise that such crucial issues came to them through newspapers and there had been no official communication in this regard.