The three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led municipal bodies charged that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was trying to “dilute their autonomy” and said they will explore legal options to resolve the issue which has broken out with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) over the demand for funds.
In a joint press meet at the Civic Centre here, the Leaders of the House in North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) charged that the Delhi government was out to undermine them.
“The Delhi government is trying to bring the corporations under its administration by discontinuing their legitimate funds and grants to render them helpless in performing their duties… It is trying to dilute their autonomy,” Leader of the House in NDMC, Meera Aggarwal, told reporters.
“We have decided to consult legal experts to see if we can resolve this matter legally. For this, we would consult our own Chief Law Officer and also go to the Attorney General and other constitutional experts,” she added as the civic bodies and the AAP government seem to be heading for a face-off.
Blaming BJP for the financial crisis in the three civic corporations, Kejriwal had yesterday asked the party to hand over the charge of these bodies to the AAP government and claimed that it will ensure profits for them within a year.
The three corporations had yesterday staged a dharna to protest against the Kejriwal government’s “denial” of financial aid to them.
“Our global share was first reduced from 5.5 per cent to 4 per cent, which is due for the last three years. The recommendations of the Fourth Finance Commission, which advocates a global share for local bodies of up to 12.5 per cent and full reimbursement for the expenditure on education, are yet to be placed in the Assembly,” Aggarwal claimed.
The three civic bodies together have a jurisdiction of nearly 1,400-sq.km. And, while NDMC (Rs 1,400 crore debt) and EDMC (over Rs 500 crore debt) are both running in loss, only SDMC has so far managed to stay out of the red.
A delegation of mayors of the three corporations had earlier met Kejriwal seeking release of funds, but the AAP government denied them any financial aid and instead directed them to approach the Centre for help.
North Delhi Mayor Yogender Chandolia had yesterday said, “We are not going to approach the Centre but intensify our protest and gherao the Chief Minister over our demands.”
Also, Aggarwal said, “We want to see our legal options first, as we want to resolve this matter as amicably as possible.”