NEW DELHI: The government on Tuesday moved a bill in Rajya Sabha to unify the three municipal corporations of Delhi to ensure a robust setup for synergised and strategic planning and optimal utilisation of resources.
The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was piloted in the Upper House of Parliament by Home Minister Amit Shah.
Lok Sabha had passed the bill, which seeks to amend the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act of 1957, on March 30.
While introducing the bill, Shah said it will unify the three municipal corporations -- North Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi Municipal Corporation and East Delhi Municipal Corporation.
He also accused the AAP government in Delhi of meting out "step-motherly" treatment to the three civic bodies for political reasons.
The three municipal corporations control around 1,400 sq km of the city and their smooth functioning is necessary for the citizens of Delhi and the country.
Shah also said the trifurcation of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was done in a hurry in 2012 which led to an imbalance.
"I searched the reason for which the municipal body (MCD) was divided but no reason was available in any file," he said, adding, "The objective was probably known only to the people who had brought it."
After 10 years of division, the results were not as expected.
All the three municipal corporations adopted different policies.
"There was no unanimity in the policies adopted for a city. This is because when they were trifurcated their financial resources and responsibilities were not properly addressed," he said.
It was divided in such a manner that two of them could not even financially sustain themselves, Shah added.
"Even there are inequalities in service conditions of the workers and because of this, there is a deep resentment among them," he said.
In the last 10 years, there were more than 250 strikes and in the decade before, there were only two big strikes.
Shah's speech was interrupted by several opposition parties, including the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
However, the home minister said all members have the right to criticise and he would reply to all of them.
CPI(M) member John Brittas has moved a proposal to refer the bill to a select committee of Rajya Sabha.
Initiating the debate on the bill, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the move is "constitutionally suspect, legally untenable, administratively blunderous and politically hypocritical".
"This bill is about control and more control by a control freak 'sarkar' (government). It has nothing to do with the plight of Delhi and its hapless citizens. This is a dangerous politics of delaying (polls) through delimitation, which is going to lead to disorder, disorganisation and disaster," he said.
Unfortunately, the ruling party which is moving the bill wants to rampage the municipal corporations with control, chaos and corruption.
"This would be, of course, challenged," he said.
Taking a dig at the government, Singhvi said a year ago the admitted revenue gap of three municipal corporations was at Rs 2,200 crore.
If improvement of the civic bodies was an object of the bill, it should have mentioned as to how the gap would be bridged.
"Your own statement is that this bill will improve (finances of the civic bodies) by garnishing an additional Rs 200 crore. This is your own estimation and the gap is of Rs 2,200 crore," he said, adding, "This is not an improvement bill."
The Finance Commission had recommended devolution of Rs 488 per person per year for every municipality in India and by that count, it comes to Rs 4,087 crore for Delhi.
"Did you as the central government give Rs 4,087 crore to the municipal corporations of Delhi? You gave lots of amount to other municipalities, but not to Delhi," he said.
Singhvi also raised the issue of reduction of the number of seats in the three corporations taken together to 250 from 272.
Sudhanshu Trivedi of the BJP supported the bill and said this was done under the constitutional provisions as Article 239 A says that the functioning of the Legislative Assembly of Delhi shall be regulated by law made by Parliament.
According to him, the Delhi government budget for a year is around Rs 75,800 crore and Rs 40,500 crore for the municipal corporations of Delhi.
Against that, an allotment of only Rs 6,129 crore was done by the AAP government.
"This number tells what kind of justice was done with MCD and why there is a need for unification of all three municipal bodies," he added.
The budget of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is around Rs 46,000 crore, but in comparison only Rs 6,000 crore was given to the Delhi municipal corporations, he said.