CHANGES IN DELHI CIVIC BODY AND THE NEW BILL
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai introduced The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 in Lok Sabha on Friday to merge the three municipal corporations of the national capital into a single entity.
The Bill seeks to amend The Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, to effectively undo the earlier 2011 amendment to the Act by which the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was trifurcated into separate North, South, and East Delhi Municipal Corporations
THIS BILL IS DIFFERENT
The Bill, when passed, will not return the MCD exactly to its pre-2011 situation. There are sections in the Bill that will make the new MCD very different from the older one.
The number of seats in the MCD house is proposed to be capped at 250, and the final number will be decided by the central government at the time of the establishment of the corporation. At present, there are 272 elected councillors in the three corporations together. This was the number even before the trifurcation, Reducing the number of seats means a new delimitation exercise will have to be conducted, which experts say will take at least three months, but is more likely to take six months. If that happens, the MCD elections, which were scheduled to be held in April according to the State Election Commission, will be considerably delayed.
Among the most important provisions of the Bill is one that allows the Centre to appoint a Special Officer until the first meeting of the unified MCD takes place. This means that until the elections are concluded, the Centre will likely appoint an officer to run the corporation.
“Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the Central Government may, if necessary, appoint a person to be called the Special Officer, to exercise the power and discharge the functions of the Corporation until the date on which the first meeting of the Corporation is held after the commencement of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Act, 2022,” says the Bill.
The other significant change is the replacement of the word “government” with “Central government” in all places. This basically takes the Delhi government out of the picture completely when it comes to decision-making in the unified corporation.
WHAT DELHI GOVT LOSES
According to a Bill Summary prepared by PRS Legislative Research, the 2011 amendment marked out areas where the Delhi government would have the power to make decisions. These included the number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes in the corporation, the division of the area of corporations into zones and wards, the delimitation of wards, salary and allowances, and leave of absence of the Commissioner. In the existing situation, the “Commissioner will exercise his powers regarding building regulations under the general superintendence and directions of Delhi government,” the PRS summary says.
The Bill instead empowers the central government to decide all these matters, The Bill also does away with the provision of appointing a Director of Local Bodies by the Delhi government. The role of the local bodies director is to monitor cooperation among the corporations and to track the collection and sharing of toll tax.