HC notice to Delhi government on funding municipal bodies

New Delhi : The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice to the Delhi government and lieutenant governor on BJP leader Vijender Gupta’s plea seeking direction for financial allocation to the three municipal corporations in the national capital to allow them to function.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher sought response from the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government and Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung on the issue by July 24.

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The plea, filed by MLA Gupta, also sought direction for the Delhi government to “immediately implement” the report of 4th Finance Commission of Delhi which was constituted in 2009 to decide the share of municipal corporations in the total revenue of Delhi.

The commission had filed its report in 2013 which is yet to be implemented, it said.

Senior advocate Bijender Chara along with advocate Sushil Kumar Pandey, who appeared for Gupta, contended that there must be an equitable distribution of funds between the government and civic agencies to ensure financial independence and proper functioning of municipal corporations.

They argued that inaction of Delhi government on non-implementation of 4th Finance Commission report amounted to non-exercise of the constitutional duty placed on it and has further caused undue hardship to the municipal corporations due to lack of funds.

“This lack of funds has impeded and continues to impede the smooth functioning of the municipal bodies, namely North Delhi Municipal Corporation and East Delhi Municipal Corporation, badly effecting civic life of nearly 80 percent of Delhi’s population,” said the plea.

“Out of six lakh properties, revenue generation is provided by only 1/3rd of properties in East Delhi. There are number of unauthorised colonies and resettlement colonies which do not generate any revenue,” it added.

The municipal bodies are struggling to pay salaries to their employees and a number of employees sporadically went on strike in both East and North Municipal Corporation.

The situation was worst on sanitation front as the Safai Karamcharis (sanitary employees) went on strike due to non payment of salaries, said the plea, adding that it was “serious blow to the central government’s Clean India campaign.”

The plea further said that due to financial crisis “all the development work came to a halt”.

“The civic work, expansion of primary education, improvement in health services, upgradation of sanitation and conservancy services have suffered a serious blow. The contractors refused to undertake fresh works unless the bills were paid.”

The old-age pension could not be distributed for months together, leading to acute hardship to elderly people, widows and physically handicapped citizens and had the report of the Finance Commission come on time, woes and miseries of lakhs of citizens could have been averted, said the lawyers.

The plea also sought direction for the Delhi government to call an urgent special session of the assembly of Delhi so that the report may be tabled at the earliest.