- Civic polls in Delhi not likely before 5-6 months as a fresh delimitation exercise required: Experts
- A bill to merge Delhi's 3 municipal corporations into a single entity was introduced in Lok Sabha.
With the total number of municipal wards in Delhi proposed to be revised, experts on Friday said the civic polls here are not likely to take place before five to six months from now as a fresh delimitation exercise will be required after the re-unification of the three corporations.
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.
A bill to merge the three municipal corporations in the national capital into a single entity was introduced in Lok Sabha on Friday 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, said that if the number of wards is reduced from the current 272, then it will 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 "reduced the stature" since areas, power, and influence, everything had been divided.
Former Delhi chief secretary Rakesh Mehta also said that with the proposed revision of the number of wards in the national capital, the civic polls are not likely to be held in the coming few months.
"The Centre's move to unify the three corporations into a single entity means it was not satisfied with the current situation of three local bodies. And, reduction in several wards would mean, a delimitation exercise will be required, which can take several months or even over a year," he said.
Asked, how soon can the delimitation exercise be conducted, Mehta, also a former state election commissioner, Delhi, said that "it depends who is doing the exercise, and how much time they will take. Someone can do it in less time too".
On the proposed re-unification, Mehta said, "The MCD already has the infrastructure, the Civic Centre has a House to accommodate all the councilors in one place, and mayor too will have a greater stature by being the first citizen of the city, as it was pre-trifurcation".
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.
Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai introduced the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, dismissing the claims made by the opposition that the move was beyond the legislative competence of Parliament.
Rai said Article 239AA gave Parliament the right to make laws concerning any matter of Union Territory.
The bill also proposes that the total number of seats of councilors and those reserved for Scheduled Castes members in the merged body will be determined by the central government through a notification in the official gazette.
The bill has a provision that 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 body is held after the commencement of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Act, 2022.
The Union Cabinet had on Tuesday approved the bill to merge the three municipal corporations of Delhi.
According to the statement of object and reasons of the bill, the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, was enacted to consolidate and amend the law relating to the municipal government of Delhi.
In 2011, the law was amended by the Delhi legislative assembly leading to the trifurcation of the MCD into three separate bodies -- NDMC, SDMC, and EDMC.
The main objective of the trifurcation of the erstwhile MCD was to create compact municipalities at various centers in Delhi in the interest of providing more efficient civic services to the public.
"However, trifurcation of the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi was uneven in terms of territorial divisions and revenue-generating potential. As a result, there was a huge gap in the resources available to the three corporations compared to their obligations," the bill says.
Over a period, the gap has only widened, increasing the financial difficulties of the three corporations in Delhi, leaving them incapacitated to make timely payment of salaries and retirement benefits to their employees, it notes.
The Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill seeks to unify the three municipal corporations into a single, integrated, and well-equipped entity.
Former South Delhi mayor Subhash Arya, former North Delhi mayor Yogender Chandolia, and serving Mayor of South Delhi Mukesh Suryan, and Mayor of East Delhi Shyam Sunder Aggarwal have welcomed the move to reunify the three corporations.