Municipal councillors and residents welfare associations in Delhi are demanding the Centre to set up a coordination mechanism between the citizens, their representatives and the Special Officer, who will be appointed to temporarily run the unified MCD even as the President was yet to give his assent to a bill passed by Parliament that seeks to merge the three civic bodies in Delhi.
According to the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which got the Parliament’s approval on April 5. The Bill mandates that the Centre will appoint a special officer to exercise the power and discharge the functions of the corporation until the date on which the first meeting of the corporation is held.
Several municipal functionaries who confirmed receiving such demands and suggestions said since the term of the three municipalities will come to an end on May 18, the tenure of the councillors will also be over. In this context, they said, the residents are demanding a bridge between the people and the bureaucracy until the next elections are held.
Former North MCD mayor and councillor from Sadar Bazar Jai Prakash said that public representatives such as MPs and corporation veterans can be part of such a mechanism. “There are discussions to have such a coordination committee to regularly apprise the bureaucracy of the public feedback and aspirations. We are in favour of such a mechanism,” he added.
Former SDMC mayor Narendra Chawla, who represents Janakpuri ward, agreed. “We are hopeful that a committee will be constituted to act as a bridge between the existing set up and the new corporation. Delhi being the capital of the nation needs a sustainable model to manage its civic affairs. Only bureaucracy should not be allowed to run the affairs. It is necessary to have an advisory mechanism,” he said.
A senior municipal functionary, who asked not to be named, said the final decision in this regard will be taken by the Union ministry of home affairs.
“The Bill cleared by the Parliament gives transitionary powers to the special officer to make amendments to remove anomalies for a period of two years. This will be done through orders published in the official gazette which can be carried on for a period of two years,” the official added.
This is not the first time that a senior bureaucrat would be entrusted with running the civic affairs in the national capital. The MCD House in Delhi has been kept under suspended for over 12 years in three periods –January 1 1990 and March 31, 1997; March 24 1975 to July 24 1977 and April 11, 1980 and February 28, 1983. During these times, there was no advisory committee. However, on several occasions the commissioner served the dual role of the administrator as well as executive head. “When the home minister has stated that no political person will be appointed as special officer even though the Bill does not make such a restriction, we should assume a political co-ordination committee would defeat this statement of intent,” a senior corporation official said.
Residents welfare association collective URJA (United Residents Joint Action of Delhi) wrote to LG Anil Baijal and home minister Amit Shah last Monday to incorporate citizen participation. “Delivery of civic services can’t be counted as satisfactory in the absence of any real-time mechanism of citizen participation and it must be done without any further delay. Residents Ward Committee is a classic example, which is fit to be considered for such mechanism,” URJA said.