New Delhi, Mar 30 (PTI) A unified civic body will be “good for Delhi and “good for people”, serving and former mayors of Delhi said on Wednesday as Lok Sabha passed a bill to merge three municipal corporations in the national capital into a single entity.
They, however, underlined that civic polls were not likely to take place before one year due to a fresh delimitation exercise.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had come into being in 1958 after the passage of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) Act by Parliament in 1957. It was trifurcated in 2012 into North, South and East corporations.
South Delhi Mayor Mukesh Suryan welcomed the passage of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, saying, “a unified civic body will be good for Delhi, good for people, good for civic administration, good for employees”.
Asked how soon the civic polls might be conducted, he said, “I cannot comment on it specifically, but the delimitation exercise will take time, a year or so”.
He said in the last delimitation exercise in 2007, the number of wards had changed from 134 to 272 and it had taken about a year’s time. The Bill seeks to unify the three municipal corporations into a single, integrated and well equipped entity to ensure a robust mechanism for synergised and strategic planning and optimal utilisation of resources, Home Minister Amit Shah said in Lok Sabha.
The bill was passed by a voice vote and various amendments moved by the Opposition members were rejected.
Sources at the State Election Commission here said that after passing of the bill to reunify the three civic bodies in the city, civic elections are likely to be delayed by around a year. The polls were earlier slated to be held in April.
Since the bill talks about capping the number of wards to 250, the Centre will form a delimitation commission after the bill is passed by both the Houses of Parliament, they said. The delimitation commission will then start the exercise to reorganise municipal wards in accordance with the population in respective Assembly segments.
“The delimitation exercise alone will take around 6-7 months. After the delimitation exercise is completed its report has to be notified by the Centre and then the process of rotation of wards, and other poll exercises will be started. So overall it is likely to take a year to conduct municipal elections in Delhi,” a source said.
Sources also added that the reduction in number of wards in the proposed unified municipal body is also likely to affect the composition of several assembly constituencies in Delhi. Delhi presently has 70 assembly seats.
Currently, the three corporations in Delhi — North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) — have 272 wards. While the North and South corporations have 104 wards each, the East corporation has 64.
Former North Delhi mayor Yogender Chandolia also welcomed the passage of the Bill in Lok Sabha, and said, the “power and prestige” of mayor of Delhi will grow again, as the mayor would once again become the “first citizen of Delhi”.
“But, now it will go to Rajya Sabha and after the final assent by the President, the delimitation will begin, and the whole exercise might take at least a year, so polls are not likely to be held till that period,” he said.
The bill was passed in Lok Sabha amid opposition claims that the move was beyond the legislative competence of Parliament.
The number of seats in the merged municipal corporation of Delhi will not exceed 250, and a special officer may be appointed to oversee its function till the first meeting of the body is held under the reunification law, according to the bill.
Constitutional expert and former secretary, Delhi assembly, S K Sharma, had earlier said that if the number of wards were reduced from the current 272, then it would require a delimitation exercise, which will take a “very long time”.
“The administrative process for delimitation will take several months, and then public suggestions and objections will be elicited, and so, the civic polls are not likely to take place in the next five to six months. It may even get further delayed,” he said.
Sharma, also former secretary, Lok Sabha, said the stature and prestige of the Delhi mayor, after reunification will grow manifold, as trifurcation had “reduce the stature” since areas, power and influence, everything had been divided.
The Bill states that the 2011 trifurcation of the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was “uneven” in terms of territorial divisions and revenue generating potential. PTI KND AKM ANB ANB
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Source: The Print