Speaking from Bengaluru, where he is undergoing naturopathy treatment, Arvind Kejriwal alleged that BJP was instigating the striking employees and trying to prepare grounds for imposition of central rule in the national capital.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today attempted to end the municipal strike by offering a loan of Rs 551 crore to two BJP-ruled civic bodies to pay salaries to their employees who refused to relent and decided to continue the stir till a “permanent solution” to their problems was found.
Speaking from Bengaluru, where he is undergoing naturopathy treatment, Kejriwal alleged that BJP was instigating the striking employees and trying to prepare grounds for imposition of central rule in the national capital.
Besides announcing a loan of Rs 551 crore, Kejriwal said Delhi Government is also releasing Rs 142 crore to the North Delhi Municipal Corporation as sought by it by way of stamp duty last week. Out of the loan, North MCD will get Rs 314 crore and East civic body Rs 237 crore.
However, the agitating employees, mainly those of East and North Delhi municipal corporations, refused to call off the indefinite strike and demanded a permanent solution to the problem of fund crunch being faced by the civic bodies before they ended their stir.
Amid the impasse, Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and is learnt to have briefed him on the strike.
Mayors of the two municipal corporations said they will take the assistance only as a grant and not in the form of a loan. The government had earlier decided to put a moratorium on repayment of Rs 6,000 crore to it by the civic bodies.
Slamming the MCDs, Kejriwal alleged there were “massive scams” in all the three BJP-ruled corporations and demanded a CBI inquiry into them. He said his government does not owe any money to the civic bodies.
“An impression is being created as if Delhi Government is responsible for the financial mess in the MCDs which have been ruled by BJP for the last 10 years. There are huge scams in MCDs. A situation is being created through the strike of the municipal workers to show that there is a crisis in Delhi.
“The Modi government has dictatorial tendencies. Someone told me they are trying to create a situation to impose President’s Rule in Delhi the way they imposed it in Arunachal Pradesh,” the Chief Minister said.
Exuding confidence about winning next year’s municipal polls, Kejriwal said situation in the MCDs is such that they should be dissolved and fresh elections be held immediately.
The Chief Minister said a joint front of 19 Unions of MCD Employees has called for dissolving the civic bodies and bringing them under Delhi Government.
Reacting to the offer of loan, Rajesh Mishra, president of United Front of Municipal Corporation Employees said, “We do not want any loan we want a permanent solution for timely payment of our salaries and other dues as well as unification of the three municipal corporations.”
The striking workers blocked roads in several areas in the city, including the arterial NH 24 and Vikas Marg, in the peak morning hours triggering traffic chaos.
The decision to extend the loan was taken at a meeting between MCD commissioners and representatives of the Delhi Government. The amount has been given to enable the MCDs to pay salaries to the employees till January 31.
“Where did the money go? As Manish Sisodia says there has been a major salary scam. Money has been stolen. House tax revenue, toll tax revenue, advertising revenue, electricity tax everything has been stolen. It is a classic case of financial mismanagement,” said Kejriwal.
The Chief Minister said it was with “great difficulty” that his government has arranged Rs 551 crore for extending the loan even though the government was facing a shortfall of Rs 3,000 crore in VAT collection.
“We had to postpone some of our present commitments to next year to manage this money,” Kejriwal said.
The Chief Minister said his government has allocated double the amount of funds to the three civic bodies in the current fiscal compared to the previous year which, he alleged, has been diverted.
Citing “precarious” financial situation, an MCD doctor’s association has also urged both the Delhi government and the Centre to consider taking over the health services from the civic bodies as a “permanent solution”.
Alleging graft, Kejriwal said the East Delhi Municipal Corporation only collected Rs 12 crore as advertising revenue in the current fiscal.
“It should have been at least 20-25 times more. There is a scam here also. Illegal hoardings are owned by BJP leaders. Employees have lost their faith in MCDs. Doctors have written to us seeking that their services be transferred to Delhi government. I have asked Sisodia to examine the proposal.” Kejriwal said.
On BJP’s demand for implementation of the recommendations of the Fourth Finance Commission, he said the Delhi Government would accept it only if the panel’s recommendation for handing over the DDA to it is accepted by the Centre.
“The Fourth finance commission report was not implemented last year when Delhi was under President’s rule. Nor were the Municipal reforms funds released.
“We are ready to implement the Fourth Finance Commission report only when the Centre hands over the DDA to us as recommended by the same report. Municipal reform funds are only for the purpose of reforms. It cannot be paid to corporations under loss,” he said.
The mayors of North and East Delhi while criticising the loan offered by the Chief Minister said they will accept Rs 551 crore as “grant” since Delhi government has yet to pay Rs 3,000 crore to the municipal corporations under 3rd Delhi Finance Commission recommendations.