Delhi MCDs should stop blaming AAP govt for a menace of their own making

The blames and the claims of the MCDs against the Delhi government are baseless. These claims can politicise the issue, grab catchy headlines and photo-ops for protesting mayors, but cannot really solve the problem.

 |  4-minute read |   30-10-2020
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The Capital of India recently witnessed a very inhuman series of events, in which the doctors and the nurses of the BJP-ruled North MCD had to sit on hunger strike demanding their pending salaries. The North Delhi Municipal Corporation of Delhi hasn't paid the salaries of the doctors and nurses for the past 5-6 months. The situation worsened so much, that the doctors took to the streets and the Covid facility of the Hindu Rao Hospital, which comes under the North MCD, had to be shut down. Thousands of Covid-19 patients had to be shifted from the Hindu Rao Hospital to other hospitals. The medical fraternity was aghast at such an inhuman and irresponsible act by the MCDs. But during this whole time, the BJP repeatedly blamed the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government for the fund crunch. It is high time BJP understood the real meaning of "aatmanirbhar" (self-reliant) and stopped pointing the gun at the Delhi government for their failures.

Delhi being the capital of India has a trifurcated governance model which includes the Central Government, Delhi Government and the MCDs. All three agencies are independent and have well-defined works and functions. There is undoubtedly no question regarding the unplanned trifurcation of the once-unified Municipal Corporations of Delhi. This took place in 2012 under the Congress government led by then Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit. This trifurcation caused havoc in the MCDs.

main_bjp-aap_103020034358.jpgThe blames and the claims of the BJP-ruled MCDs against the AAP government are baseless. (Photo: Reuters)

The BJP has been ruling the MCDs for the past 14 years, and it would be wrong to say that in this decade-and-a-half, they haven't been able to find a solution for the fund problem. If one political party cannot find a way to solve their problem in 14 years, it does not make the issue unsolvable. Instead, it exposes the indolence and incompetency of the authority in power. The root cause of the problem is not the AAP-led Delhi government, but that the issue needs to be solved at the level of the Central government and at that of the MCDs.

In 2019, an internal audit report was submitted to the North MCD, which showed the diversion of huge amounts of funds meant for parking infrastructure, to pay the salaries of the employees. According to the report, "The North Delhi Municipal Corporation suffered losses and diverted money meant for parking infrastructure development to pay salaries, says an internal audit report for the financial year 2016-17. The report, authored by the corporation's chief auditor Vinita Mishra and tabled at its Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday, says the irregularities amounted to about Rs 3,299 crore." Corruption has been the key issue of the BJP-ruled MCD and due to this uncontrolled corruption, the MCDs have suffered massively.

However, without addressing the real issues, the BJP continued to blame the AAP government. According to an India Today report, "Standing Committee chairperson Jayaprakash also said only 17, of the civic body's 230 engineers, have no charge sheet against them. Half of them are facing serious charges. About two weeks ago, 39 charge-sheeted engineers were forced to retire. Central agencies like CBI and ED are probing  17 officials."

The blames and the claims of the BJP-ruled MCDs against the Delhi government are baseless. These claims can politicise the issue, grab catchy headlines and photo-ops for protesting mayors, but cannot really solve the problem. The reality is that the Delhi government under the Aam Aadmi Party has always paid the due share of taxes to the MCDs. The Delhi government has also paid a large sum over and above as loan. According to government records, as on April 1, 2020, a total of Rs 6,008 crore loan is outstanding over the three MCDs. This includes Rs 1,977 crore outstanding from EDMC, Rs 3,243 crore from NDMC, and Rs 788 crore from SDMC.

Most significantly, a look at the recent Comptroller of Audit General (CAG) report shows, "Loans amounting to Rs 3,814.89 crore were outstanding against the three municipal corporations in Delhi as on March 31 last year. Loans are provided to civic bodies on a quarterly basis under various projects and schemes and these are adjusted from the basic tax assignment due to them. Loans amounting to Rs 2,059.87 crore was outstanding against the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) as on March 31, 2012.”

It is an inescapable truth that MCDs are the only government agency across India which has denied the basic salaries of the Covid-19 warriors. The warriors, who have treated Covid-19 patients for 6 months without a single penny just for the citizens of Delhi and to not put the lives of the citizens at risk. These doctors and nurses have treated thousands of Covid patients without any salary when the city was under lockdown and the majority of the population was working from home. This is the time the MCDs, under the BJP, should find a way to deal with the problem without blaming the Delhi government. Blame games help no one.

Also Read | Suspending democracy: Woes of the opposition in MCD

Writer

Sayantan Ghosh Sayantan Ghosh @sayantan_gh

The author is an associate research fellow with the Delhi Assembly Research Center.

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