3 in 1: New Bill silent on Corpn funding

News: The central government introduced the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, in the Lok Sabha. The Bill seeks to merge the three municipal corporations of Delhi into a single entity. 

What is the rationale behind the bill? 

The 2011 Trifurcation of the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi was uneven in terms of territorial divisions and revenue generating potential. As a result, there was a huge gap in the resources available to the three corporations compared to their obligations. 

Further, the trifurcation has failed to offer efficient civic services as was expected from the more compact municipal corporation of Delhi. 

Hence, the bill seeks to merge three Delhi MCDs. 

About Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill 

The bill proposes to give wide-ranging powers to the central government in running the municipal body.  

The bill contains a provision allowing the central government, “if necessary”, to appoint a person to be called “special officer“. The officer will exercise the power and discharge the functions of the municipal corporation until the date on which the first meeting of the unified body is held. 

Bill is silent on fund allocation to the singular municipal corporation. Finance has been the bone of contention between the three municipal corporations and Delhi government for a long period.  

Under the current system, a part of the corporations’ finances comes from Delhi government as per the recommendations of the state finance commission.  

The bill contends that since the trifurcation, the money gap has only widened. It blames this lack of funds for the frequent strikes by the municipal employees which have not only affected civic services, but also created concomitant problems of cleanliness and sanitisation. 

Another proposed change is a reduction in the number of wards under the municipal corporation from 272 to 250. This makes delimitation of ward boundaries and rotation of wards for reserved seats before the next civic polls an inevitability.  

The bill adds that the number of seats of councillors and those reserved for Scheduled Castes in the merged body will be determined by the central government through a gazette notification. 

Why there is an opposition to the bill? 

The bill is being opposed on the following grounds: 

The legislation to divide the singular Municipal Corporation of Delhi into three entities was cleared by Delhi assembly, and so Parliament did not have the jurisdiction to merge them. 

As per the Indian Constitution, power to constitute municipal bodies is vested with the states. 

The bill hasn’t suggested anything to resolve the financial crisis facing the municipal body. 

The move to reunify the three civic bodies was a ploy to defer the scheduled MCD elections . 

What is the govt’s stance in the matter? 

As per the Govt, Article 239AA of the Constitution gives Parliament the right to make laws for Delhi. 

 It further stated that the trifurcation of MCD was done to improve governance in the capital, but the experience of the last decade had shown results to the contrary. 

Source: The post is based on an article “3 in 1: New Bill silent on Corpn funding” published in The Times of India on 26th Mar 22. 

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