The North Delhi Municipal Corporation is in deep financial crisis. It doesn’t have funds to pay its employees and pensioners. However, Mayor Jai Prakash is certain of success. In a candid conversation with Parvez Sultan, he said that the Corporation has initiated efforts to boost revenue collection.
Prakash also said he would approach the court and seek intervention of the Centre to get Corporation’s dues from the Delhi government.
When will the financial crisis in North Delhi Municipal Corporation end? Is it possible?
The financial crisis will end but we need to work in the right direction with determination at three levels. We are making all efforts.
During the lockdown, the city was shut for four months therefore our income had reduced as the collection of property tax and earnings from car parking, advertisement, licensing department, and other sources had fallen drastically.
Therefore, we are exploring opportunities to increase revenue. We have brought out an amnesty scheme to encourage people to pay up their property tax. Interest and penalties on property tax due have been waived. The move has immensely helped us. We have managed to clear part of pending salaries as a good amount of property tax was collected.
The advertisement department’s accounts are also being examined. We are encouraging people to get their unauthorised constructions regularised. In this way, people will get protection and the corporation will get revenue.
There are several big projects under the Remunerative Project (RP) Cell, from where we can get more income. We have sent notices to contractors and the concessionaires because payments stopped after the Centre allowed a six months moratorium.
Some have started releasing money after the notices.
Another step to boost revenue collection, we have taken, is to waive property tax in unauthorised colonies. We will get desired results from next month.
We have introduced reforms and simplified licenses procurement processes. Different permits like health and trade licenses will get automatically renewed this year after the licencees pay the prescribed fee.
We have also expedited our residential flat projects in Azadpur Nagar and Model Town. These projects will fetch Rs 6,000-Rs 7,000 crore. We will invest that amount in a fixed deposit that will ensure smooth functioning of the corporation.
We will also get more money from Chandni Chowk’s Omaxe parking project. Apart from these, we are also looking into small projects from where we can earn more revenue.
Will the employees start getting salaries on time?
The Delhi government needs to help us in this matter. It should release a grant-in-aid of Rs 2,022 crore, which it had announced in its interim budget. Two quarterly instalments of Rs 556 crore and Rs 1,045 crore are still to be paid. The grant from the government comes under different heads and also for the salary of our employees. The file related to the amount of Rs 425 crore to be disbursed as salaries is pending with the government since May.
This seems to be a blame game? What is the solution to this issue?
We are exploring all legal possibilities to get our dues cleared by the Delhi government. If I will need to approach the court to get the salaries of our staff; I will not hesitate. First time, a mayor-- though it is a constitutional post, will appear before the court. I am seeking legal assistance and examining the issue. I will also request the Centre to take cognisance of the situation and intervene.
Why is the Delhi government to blame for the financial mess in the Corporation?
Whenever there is any calamity or pandemic like this, it is the responsibility of the state government to take care of its local bodies but the government disowned three municipal agencies like orphans.
However, we didn’t lose courage. We set up an infrastructure for sanitisation despite the financial crisis. Sanitation workers in containment zones were provided Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits, gloves and masks for their safety.
The AAP government has been miserably unsuccessful in tackling the pandemic. Hence, its ministers are spreading negativity. Because the government has failed, they also want municipal corporations to collapse.