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Uncertainty over: Cabinet sounds a bugle call for merger of civic bodies in Delhi

By wasmulhaq 
Updated Date

The Union cabinet on Tuesday gave its green signal for the unification of Delhi’s three municipal corporations. The bill aims to merge the three municipal corporations in Delhi.

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Officials aware of the development said the amendment act provides for a unified municipal corporation of Delhi by subsuming the existing three corporations.

The erstwhile Delhi Municipal Corporation was trifurcated into three municipal corporations. ie the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).

Elections postponed, citing unification of the bodies.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party has been at the Centre for nearly eight years now. If they had to combine the three bodies, why didn’t they do it all these years? Why did you write to the EC just one hour before the scheduled announcement of the dates for the MCD polls? ” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asked.

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“The unification of the three MCDs could have been done long ago and anytime. This is simply a ploy to delay the MCD elections. The BJP is scared of losing the civic polls in Delhi, “the Aam Aadmi Party said in a statement.

The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 is likely to be tabled in Parliament next week, people familiar with the development said, adding that it may also be passed during the ongoing budget session.

The decision comes 13 days after the State Election Commission (SEC), which was expected to declare the schedule for elections to the three civic bodies—the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation—called off the announcement at the last minute, citing a communication from the central government about its plans to merge the three.

AAP sure to win 

AAP alleged that the BJP was going to lose the civic polls, hence the decision to postpone the elections, citing unification of the bodies. The party even moved the Supreme Court last week, claiming “flagrant meddling” by the Centre in the conduct of the municipal polls in Delhi by using “brazen influence” over the SEC.

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However, the BJP has argued that trifurcated MCDs have faced multiple problems over the years, such as non-payment of salaries of safai karamcharis (sweepers), uneven distribution of property tax between three civic bodies, inefficient management and growing losses, etc.

Congress proposed trifurcation in 2011

In 2011, the Sheila Dikshit-led Congress government proposed the trifurcation of the MCD for better efficiency. The ministry of home affairs then cleared the proposal in November 2011, following which the Delhi government convened a special assembly session and passed the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill in December 2011.

The final notification for the trifurcation was issued in January 2012, carving out North, South, and East Delhi municipal bodies, with 104 wards given to the first two, and 64 to the latter.

When it was trifurcated by the then Congress establishment, MCD was the second-largest civic body in the world after the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. It was headed by a commissioner, assisted by six additional commissioners, 22 directors and department heads, to oversee key functions such as education, engineering, sanitation, and horticulture, among others.

The State Election Commission notified that elections for the three municipal corporations in Delhi will be held in April. Delhi is compartmentalised and ruled by at least seven elected governments, including the municipal ones.

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How Did the Municipal Corporation Come into Existence?

There is no written history of autonomous rule in Delhi before 1863, although there is a mention of the existence of a municipality in 1862. The first regular meeting of the municipality was held on April 23, 1863, at which local people were called. On June 1, 1863, the meeting was presided over by the Commissioner of Delhi.

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi was officially established on April 7, 1958 by an Act of Parliament. The Delhi Town Hall at Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi was the seat of the MCD from 1866 till late 2009, when offices shifted to the new MCD Civic Centre on Minto Road in Central Delhi.

 

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