In the transition period, the babus of the Delhi Municipal Corporation overtook the councilors. latest news delhi | Delhi News

Since early July, the newly unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi has passed orders empowering its executive wing to: increase factory licenses, health licenses (for eateries), and general trade and storage licenses by 15%; and proposed a consumer price index-based adjustment for property tax with the municipal commissioner authorized to revise the levy on this basis.

When seen with the actual increase in the many taxes and license fees that come under the purview of the MCD, the move indicates the balance of power in the local body away from its elected members – at a time when there is no one due for the MCD. It is currently in a transition phase whereby the powers of the deliberative wing (elected councillors) and its committees are vested in a special officer appointed by the central government. This system will continue till the delimitation of MCD wards and fresh elections are held.

MCD officials claim that many of these taxes were not revised by councilors over the past decade (mainly due to populist politics), adding to the financial woes in the now merged three MCDs. A senior MCD official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a similar automatic increase in license fee is already in place in the New Delhi Municipal Council.

KS Mehra, final commissioner of Integrated MCD (2008-2012), said that the provision of automatic increase in tax rates after a predetermined period is a good step. “The revenue is needed to maintain a good level of civic services in the city and year after year we have seen that the political leaders are never inclined to increase the tax, which is why the financial condition of MCD is in such dire straits. This is a positive step and a structural reform from the point of view of urban governance.”

But the move has not gone down well.

Atul Goel, United RWA (Resident Wayfare Association) Joint Action (URJA), an umbrella body, disagreed with the 15% default hike. “Bypassing the public consultation process can prove to be harmful in the long run. The MVC (Municipal Valuation Committee) proposes to empower the commissioner to raise the base area values ​​for property taxes on the basis of consumer price index. Instead it should be linked to the profit and loss account of the MCD for effective administration while providing good services. , Reacting to the factory license rate revision, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) chief Raghuvansh Arora said that factory operators pay higher property tax and commercial rates for electricity. “There has already been a huge increase in the license fee. In some cases it has increased up to 50 times. Property tax has increased. How will small and medium scale industries survive in such a business environment?

The major issue being raised by some is the complete erosion of the powers of the elected branch. The unified corporation came into existence on 22 May, and the transition phase in which a special officer, a bureaucrat appointed by the central government, remains in power, is expected to continue until the delimitation process to create new municipal wards is over. and there are no elections. Elect 250 new councilors.

North MCD Mayor Jai Prakash, representing Sadar Bazar area, said the body cannot be rebuilt with the NDMC as a model. “We have said earlier that NDMC and MCD are completely different places. MCD covers a very large area with variations of villages, unauthorized colonies, planned and unplanned areas. The effects of such automatic hikes and tax increases need to incorporate the public backlash that comes from municipal councillors. He said that the new House to be formed after the delimitation and the elections would rectify these steps.

Former South MCD Mayor Narendra Chawla, who represents Janakpuri in the House of Councillors, said the MCD should defer such decisions until an elected wing is in place. “There needs to be representation of the people in such decisions. The bureaucracy cannot function on its own. The positive and negative implications of such policy steps need to be debated openly and the MCD has to wait for the next 4-6 months till the elections are held. For that they should be stopped.

East Delhi RWA United Front chief BS Vohra said such decisions require public consultation. “The Sheila Dikshit government tried an auto-hike provision for water bills and it eventually cost them dearly. Why are they repeating the same mistakes? ,

Vohra said that the MCD should also initiate public hearing on such proposals and provide data on revenue utilization. “They took a one-time parking fee, but instead of using it for the development of the area, they spent it on paying salaries. Where’s the accountability?”

There is also a perception among some that this move could make Delhi a city run by bureaucrats.

Manoj Tyagi, former leader of opposition in Aam Aadmi Party’s Eastern MCD, said he feared that attempts were being made to end the elections in Delhi or to make the elected people powerless. “Why are they curtailing the powers of the elected wing by taking the automatic power of tax hike? This is wrong and undemocratic.”

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