The AAP-led Delhi government today allocated a whopping Rs 7,571 crore to the three municipal corporations in the budget for 2017-18, with an eye on the upcoming civic polls.
The AAP had staged a stunning performance in the last Assembly polls in which the BJP was reduced to just three seats in the 70-member House, and it is hoping to replicate its performance in the municipal elections due in April.
“Our government will provide financial support of Rs 7,571 crore to the local bodies in 2017-18 which is 15.8 per cent of the total budget and 14.9 per cent higher than the funds given in the Revised Estimates of 2016,” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said.
Presenting the government’s annual budget in the Assembly, he said that in view of the poor financial conditions of North and East Delhi Municipal Corporations, “we have not recovered principal and interest amount of the outstanding loan liabilities during the years 2015-16 and 2016-17 from the grants being released.”
The AAP government and the three corporations have been at loggerheads for the past several months over the issue of municipal funding, with the Kejriwal-led party accusing the civic bodies of “being corrupt” and not properly using the funds given by the city government.
The alleged mismanagement in the civic bodies is one of the poll planks of the AAP.
It had asserted that “people are eager to vote for the AAP to clean the city of garbage and the MCD of corruption.”
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, when asked by reporters if the high allocation was timed with the civic polls, said, “We have done a lot of work in education, health and social sectors and if we seek votes based on our work, there is nothing wrong in it.”
“We are not seeking votes in the name of ‘kabristan’,” Kejriwal said, in a veiled dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The financial support to local bodies includes Rs 3,343 crore as share in tax collection in 2017-18, Rs 1,810 crore as share in stamps and registration fee and one-time parking charges and Rs 700 crore as ‘ways and means’ advance to North and East Delhi Municipal Corporations, Sisodia said.
The government also said that for the implementation of various developmental works under the urban development, health, transport and education sectors, it has proposed to allocate Rs 1,718 crore to the local bodies.
“Our government is committed to support the municipal corporations in every possible way. We are in constant dialogue with corporations to encourage them to increase their resources and to rationalise their ever burgeoning expenditures,” he said.
The erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi was trifurcated in 2012 into North, South and East Municipal Corporations. Barring SDMC, both NDMC and EDMC are severely cash-strapped.