Published: 30th March 2022
What The FAQ: What is the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) unification Bill all about?
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “The Bill for the reunification of corporations has been brought only to delay the elections..."
The contentious Bill to unify the three municipal corporations in Delhi is listed for passage in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, March 30. Called the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 or the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) unification Bill, it has been a point of conflict between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi and the BJP-led government at the Centre. The reason? AAP has levelled allegations against the BJP that the BIll is an attempt by the BJP-led Centre to take full control of the civic body once it is unified.
The three civic bodies' polls were to be held next month but were put off at the last minute by the State Election Commission after a letter from the Centre about its intention to unify the civic bodies. Let's look at what the bill is all about.
What is this Bill about?
The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 25, 2022. It seeks to amend the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957. The Act was amended in 2011 by Delhi Legislative Assembly to divide the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi into the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation. The Bill seeks to replace the three municipal corporations under the Act with one Corporation named the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
Why is the Delhi government strongly opposing it?
The Act, as amended in 2011, empowers the Delhi government to decide various matters under the Act. This includes the total number of seats of councillors and number of seats reserved for members of the Scheduled Castes, division of the area of corporations into zones and wards, delimitation of wards, matters such as salary and allowances, and leave of absence of the commissioner, sanctioning of consolidation of loans by a corporation, and sanctioning suits for compensation against the commissioner for loss or waste or misapplication of municipal fund or property. Similarly, the Act mandates that the commissioner will exercise his powers regarding building regulations under the general superintendence and directions of the Delhi government.
Now, the Bill intends to take all those powers away from the Delhi government and instead, empower the central government to decide on these matters.
How are other opposition leaders taking it?
Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress MP Abdul Khaleque (Assam), Trinamool Congress’ Saugata Roy and Revolutionary Socialist Party's NK Premachandran have moved 20 amendments. Most of the amendments seek to delete the proposed provision that snatches away the control of the civic bodies out of the Delhi government’s hands and gives it to the Centre.
What are the options before the Delhi government?
The Delhi government may challenge the Bill in court. On March 27, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “The Bill for the reunification of corporations has been brought only to delay the elections. What is the logic of reducing the number of wards? We will study the Bill and challenge it in the court if need be.”