Delhi’s Civic Circus: Cash Crunch, Councilors in Custody and Constraints of Corporation!
Lately if anyone would have had the misfortune of travelling into the lanes of east Delhi, chances are they had to make their way in between piles of garbage scattered all around. A city which every year struggles hard with diseases such as Dengue and Chikungunya doesn’t seem to be taking sanitation very seriously.
On Friday it was the ninth day of ongoing strike of sanitation workers of East Delhi Municipal Corporation. This is for the sixth time since Arvind Kejriwal became the CM of Delhi in 2015 that the sanitation workers have gone on a strike asking for their pending payments to be cleared.
Such record doesn’t seem to be very promising in a government that has yet to see its second anniversary.
Bone of Contention
Sanitation workers are demanding their long due payments to be cleared in full and they be offered cashless health insurance as they are exposed to dirt all the time and have more chances of falling ill. Sanjay Gehlot, the leader of the ongoing agitation however says that they are also seeking a permanent solution of this recurring problem.
On Friday a meeting between additional commissioner Vivek Pandey and a group of sanitation workers failed to reach any conclusion. Another round of meeting for 16th January Monday has been scheduled in hope to reach some middle ground. Corporation says that they have discussed all the issues with the workers and would let them know their decision in the next meeting.
However the reality on ground is that the municipal corporation doesn’t even have money on its hands and hence the delay is more of a necessity than an option.
Limitations of Municipal Corporation
Since trifurcation of MCD in 2012 the East Delhi Municipal Corporation is always facing major cash crunch. As per Satya Sharma, Mayor, EDMC, there are total 28,000 staff currently working with this municipal body and a salary of 125 crore needs to be paid to them every month.
However EDMC receives only INR 120 crore per annum as property tax. Property tax is said to constitute for about 45% of total revenue of the corporation and as can be fathomed from the above stats, it can’t even cover one month’s salary in whole.
AAP’s dirty politics spreading stink on streets
Corporations claim that AAP government of Delhi is intentionally withholding over INR 2,000 crore which should be released immediately to curb these problems. Delhi government owes large amount of money to the corporations as per recommendations of 3rd Finance Commission from 2012-13 to 2015-16.
Delhi government has also kept the recommendations of 4th Finance Commissions pending since 2013 which if implemented would have raised income of municipal bodies through global share or taxes from 4% to 12.5%.
However on their part Deputy CM Manish Sisodia had recently announced release of INR 119 crore for payment of salaries. Corporations termed it insufficient and little supply for bigger demands.
AAP walking the talk, just the wrong way
Arvind Kejriwal often blames central government of stalling his government’s reform in Delhi. However that’s exactly what Delhi government led by Mr. Kejriwal is doing to Delhi’s municipal corporations.
Clearly if there is one thing in which AAP has actually fared well, it’s called courting controversies. With repeated attempts and regular practice they have become champions of passing bucks. What’s amazing is that they can even take this as a compliment claiming at least we are doing something. Irresponsible howsoever they maybe, they have always shied away from taking responsibility of anything, whatsoever.
On Friday 120 BJP councilors led by Subhash Arya staged a protest outside Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence demanding immediate release of funds. Delhi police, which is often called as Modi’s police by Mr. Kejriwal, arrested these BJP councilors and took them to Maurice Nagar and Civil Lines police stations.
Few days back sanitation workers have also burned Kejriwal effigies and protested against him at Shahadra headquarters of EDMC.
Nevertheless it is the people of Delhi who are becoming the real victims of this tug of war between AAP government and MCD. They are the ones who have to bear the real grunt of diseases and environmental issues. People’s welfare has gone for a toss in AAP governments fight for superiority. As of now no profound resolution seems to be visible from sides of our mighty decision makers.