NEW DELHI: Senior IAS officer Ashwani Kumar was appointed as the ‘Special Officer’ of the unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), while Gyanesh Bharti, the commissioner of the South civic body, would take over as the commissioner.
The Centre on Wednesday had issued a notification saying the three civic bodies of Delhi will be formally merged on May 22. It will be after a decade that the municipal corporations in the national capital will be merged into one body like the erstwhile MCD. According to the newly amended Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Act, the special officer will be the top authority of the unified civic body until elections are held and a new House is elected.
Kumar, a 1992-batch officer of the AGMUT cadre, was the chief secretary of Puducherry until he was transferred to Delhi recently. Prior to his stint in Puducherry, Kumar was the PWD secretary in the AAP government. In 2017, Kumar had come under attack from the AAP government, which alleged that he had been ‘stalling’ development works while administrative action was also taken against him.
Bharti, a 1998-batch IAS officer of the AGMUT cadre, was the senior most among the three municipal commissioners. He has been serving as the South civic body’s commissioner over the past five years. “My priority will be to provide municipal services delivered to the people of Delhi in a transparent manner,” Bharti said after the new appointment order. While the terms of the South and North corporations ended over the past few days, the term of the East Corporation will end on May 22.
The next step
According to top civic officials, the first thing on the list after the special officer joins on Sunday is the merger of departments and surrendering of posts that are no longer required. “The first step will be the merger of departments of the three corporations into one and assigning of charges to the officers. Once the administrative integration is done, the next step will be to reorganise finances,” said a senior official.
The civic bodies have been under a severe fund crunch, which has crippled development works as well as caused unrest among employees, who have not been paid their salaries and pensions for months together.
“Our first priority will be to address the financial crunch and pay off the pending salaries and pensions of employees, who have been unpaid for months together. The civic body will focus on revenue generation, the merger will help cut down on a big chunk that went into salaries of top officials and attached staff for each corporation,” the official added.
At present, while employees of the East body including teachers, principals, nurses, paramedics and officers have not been paid for the past five months and are not likely to even get their dues by May-end, those from the North MCD have not been paid for three months in a row.
Not the best of the experience
The task is cut out for Ashwani Kumar, who was at loggerheads with the AAP government over issues during his previous tenure. In 2017, the CM had sought action against Kumar for “dereliction of duty” over desilting of drains. The Delhi Assembly Privilege Committee had also initiated proceedings against him but Kumar had managed to get a stay from the HC.
Workforce to be streamlined
Former chairman of the MCD Works Committee, Jagdish Mamgai, said that currently there are three HODs in each department of the three civic bodies but after the unification, there will be one HOD in a department. “So now the new commissioner and the special officer will initiate the process of reshuffling and singling the staff as it has to be curtailed,’’ he added,