The counting of votes started at 8 am on Wednesday for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) where the BJP, Congress, and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are vying for control. This is the corporation’s first election since the Centre merged the national capital’s three municipal bodies – the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation – into one in May.
A report by Deccan Herald states that the MCD is one of the world’s largest civic bodies, with an estimated 1.1 crore people living under its jurisdiction. It is second only to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in terms of population, with an estimated 1.4 crore people living in Tokyo’s villages, towns, cities, and special wards.
And while the poll rhetoric has been clouded by somewhat nationalistic perspectives of the respective parties contesting, key issues of practical importance to the Delhi junta will be decisive factors in who wins. What are these and where do parties stand on them?
According to a report by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, the city generates approximately 11,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day. Around 5,000 tonnes of this are processed, with the remainder (6,000 tonnes per day or 21.6 lakh tonnes per year) ending up at three landfill sites.
Government data says that less than a fifth of the existing waste at the three landfill sites—Ghazipur, Okhla, and Bhalswa—has been processed since the project to flatten the garbage mountains began in October 2019. The National Green Tribunal’s deadline is less than two years away, a report by Outlook explains.
On October 11, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered the Government of NCT Delhi to pay Rs 900 crores in environmental compensation for an alleged violation of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, in the handling of legacy waste sites in Delhi. This amount, which is ten times the value, must be used for restoration measures to recover the land.
Dump sites constantly produce explosive gases such as methane, which can escape vertically and laterally, posing a constant threat of explosion.
What Has BJP Said on This?
The BJP claims that the AAP-led Delhi government is “lying" and has not provided adequate funding to municipalities. It has promised to clear the landfill sites before the MCD elections.
BJP’s 12 big promises for the MCD polls.Vote BJP for a better Delhi… pic.twitter.com/v608dEyZae
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) November 25, 2022
In its manifesto, the BJP has claimed that ‘hundred per cent garbage will be processed through waste-to-energy conversion for a green and clean Delhi.’
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has promised that the AAP will clear three landfill sites in the city.
“The BJP had promised to bring funds from the Centre, make Delhi garbage-free and remove the garbage mountains but did not do anything," he had said.
In its election manifesto, Congress has said it will work towards turning MCD monicker into Meri Chamakti Delhi based on six principal themes namely, “Pollution free Delhi, Corruption free Delhi, Dhalao (garbage receptacle) free Delhi, Garbage free Delhi, Epidemic free Delhi and Debt free financially reliant Delhi.”
MCD polls: Congress pledges empowerment of RWAs, timely delivery of serviceshttps://t.co/Ta76iX8CaD pic.twitter.com/FkQYm0YVSO— Ajay Maken (@ajaymaken) April 18, 2017
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi has jurisdiction over roads in Delhi that are less than 60 feet wide, which includes all roads in the colonies.
A ground report by the Times of India said that various areas of the city, it found evidence of residents’ complaints that the inner roads are in poor condition, with broken, potholed, or unpaved sections.
In reality, the municipal corporation has struggled to fund the repair and maintenance of Delhi’s 202km of such roads. The former North and South municipal corporations had budgeted for road improvements, but with unification, the work has taken a back seat, the report said.
According to MCD officials, they have relied heavily on the Urban Development Fund provided by the central government as part of the Swachh Bharat campaign on the assumption that road repairs would reduce dust. In 2018, the former trio of municipal corporations requested Rs 300 crore from the Centre, but only the southern body received Rs 48 crore. This money was used to purchase water sprinklers, mechanised sweeping machines, and other anti-pollution equipment. MCD claimed that as part of its “One Road per Zone per Week" initiative, 96 roads were identified for restoration, 50 of which were renovated earlier this year.
According to the Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA) of north, east, and south Delhi, broken roads, waterlogging, and garbage mismanagement are some of the major issues that residents in the national capital have been dealing with for years, PTI had earlier reported.
According to Ashok Bhasin, president of the north Delhi RWA, 80% of the roads in their area are broken, and sewer lines around the slums need to be repaired.
Other issues of concern among residents include an increase in property taxes, user fees for cleanliness in the society, and “inefficient" management of problems raised by the society.
“What has the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) given the residents in the last 15 years? They have provided us with zero benefits. Residents are being threatened and fined by the authorities in the name of pollution. Politicians are preoccupied with publicity rather than working for public development," he said.
According to B S Vohra, president of the east Delhi RWA, the civic body should prioritise civic infrastructure in the union territory’s eastern region.
During the rainy season, he claims, residents face waterlogging issues due to inadequate drainage systems. Pothole-infested roads exacerbate the situation.
RWA member Rajiv Kakariya of Greater Kailash in south Delhi believes the civic body’s policies should be changed because it is becoming a “tender operator" rather than a “service provider."
“Policy is paralysed, and the MCD is becoming a tender operator, whereas they are supposed to be the service provider and implementer," Kakariya told PTI.
He stated that RWA’s park usage policies for community events should be changed, and that better policies for residential parking and colony gate operation and installation are also required.
“Aside from the issues of residential parking and colony gates, better policies for municipal liability for accountability of MCD services and tree pruning are also required," he told PTI.
Former RWA president of Defence Colony, Ranjeet Singh, stated that irregularities in garbage collection are one of the major issues that residents in the area have been facing.
“Unsegregated garbage collection from houses is the main issue; dengue cases are rampant and nothing is being done in the societies to address this; and there is no regular cleaning of service lanes, most likely due to a lack of staff," he added.
- All MCD services will be made available online via a mobile application.
- For a green and clean Delhi, 100% of garbage will be processed through waste-to-energy conversion.
- Every slum dweller will be given a flat, and 17,000 flats are ready for distribution.
- The party has stated that it will abolish trade and health licences, as well as factory licences.
- It also announced the opening of 50 ‘jan rasois’ run by women in the city for $5 per meal.
- Meritorious girls in MCD schools will receive free bicycles, and all such schools will be upgraded to smart schools by 2027.
- Monthly scholarships will be given to students who have completed Class 5.
- To beautify Delhi: “We want to beautify and clean Delhi," the Chief Minister stated.
- To eliminate corruption in MCD. “We guarantee that we will make the MCD corruption-free by introducing a simple online process building map approval," said CM Kejriwal.
- The AAP promised to improve MCD schools and dispensaries.
- Kejriwal promised to address the problem of stray animals.
- The Party supremo also promised a long-term and practical solution to the parking space issue.
- CM Kejriwal also promised to repair the city’s broken roads.
- In an effort to help traders, Kejriwal promised to scrap conversion fees
- The AAP has also promised vendors a vending zone where they will not have to pay bribes.
- Kejriwal promised that all MCD employees would receive their salaries on time.
- Most importantly, he stated that the AAP will clear three landfill sites throughout the city. “The BJP promised to bring funds from the Centre, to make Delhi garbage-free, and to remove the garbage mountains, but they did nothing," he said.
The Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) released its election manifesto for the upcoming Municipal Corporation of Delhi MCD elections, titled “Congress Vision MCD-Meri Chamakti Delhi,", with a focus on the accomplishments of the Congress tenure during the Sheila Dikshit government.
“In the story of Delhi’s development, former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit cannot be forgotten, while Prime Minister Indira Gandhi led the country on the path of development and secured its borders." “Meri Chamakti Delhi aims to create a city where all residents participate in the local governance structure, a clean and tidy place that provides a good environment for future generations," said Anil Kumar, the Delhi Congress chief.
According to the vision document, the MCD-2022 election provides an opportunity to replace the BJP-AAP duo.
“Municipal governance is the most important tier of governance for citizens, but the AAP-BJP coalition has neglected and derailed MCD for their own vested interests." The manifesto states that “the ongoing and unnecessary conflict between Kejriwal and the BJP-led municipal and central governments has caused innocent citizens to suffer."
Kumar stated that the Congress will work to change the MCD moniker to Meri Chamakti Delhi based on six major themes: “Pollution free Delhi, Corruption free Delhi, Dhalao (garbage receptacle) free Delhi, Garbage free Delhi, Epidemic free Delhi, and Debt free financially reliant Delhi."
Kumar went on to say that Congress promised in its manifesto to double the salaries of civic body employees. “MCD should not be reliant on others in order for corporation properties to be sold," the DPCC chief added.
The manifesto also highlights ‘eleven top priorities,’ including initiatives to reduce the national capital’s current alarming air quality and Yamuna pollution.
Furthermore, a drainage master plan for MCD will be implemented in collaboration with other public authorities, and the quality of civic amenities will be improved, particularly for scheduled castes and minorities, JJ clusters, and unauthorised colonies, according to the manifesto.
Congress also promises to eliminate corruption in the building department in order to maximise participation in corporation decision-making through RWAs/NGOs.
With inputs from PTI, agencies
This report was originally published on November 28, 2022.
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