Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 9
Indicating that it was “unlikely” the Centre would provide additional fund to the municipal corporations of Delhi (MCDs), officials in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said, the “failure” of the Arvind Kejriwal government to implement the report of 4th Delhi Finance Commission (DFC) relating to allocation of funds has led to the crisis in the city’s five local bodies, including the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).
MHA’s indications have come a day after the Supreme Court (SC) had said it was “unfortunate and tragic” that the Centre was not prepared to “make any payment at all” to resolve the crisis arising out of the strike by EDMC sanitation workers over their demand for regular payment of salaries.
Noting that “at this stage” in view of the current statutory provisions and overall fiscal resources, the MHA officials said, the 4th DFC, which submitted its report in 2013, had recommended additional funding of Rs 1,220 crore to the three municipal bodies — East, West and South Delhi — from the Delhi government, of which the majority share of Rs 1,140 crore was to go to the EDMC.
“The Delhi government has been funding the MCDs as per the award of the 3rd DFC, even though the report of 5th DFC, constituted during Kejriwal’s tenure, was submitted in October 2017,” a senior MHA official said.
Further, as per terms of the DFC, its mandate is to recommend principles to govern distribution of net proceeds of taxes and duties leviable by the Delhi government among the city government and the three MCDs, New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Cantonment Board, they said, adding that the DFC has no mandate which has a bearing on the Union Government.
The Delhi High Court (HC) had in its order dated April 16, upheld the Central government’s contention that the DFC cast no obligation on it, while directing that “in terms of recommendations of 4th DFC, the National Capital Territory of Delhi (government) shall forthwith release all amounts payable to the EDMC and the North Delhi Municipal Corporation with w.e.f November 1, 2017,... To enable payment of salaries, funds and financial benefits to the employees”. Later the HC reiterated this direction on May 21.
The Delhi government, however, appealed against this HC order on the grounds that it could not implement the recommendations of 4th DFC unless the Centre fulfilled certain other recommendations. The Centre thereafter filed an affidavit before a SC bench comprising justices Madan Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta in a separate matter relating to dengue deaths in Delhi, merely citing the statutory provisions that the funds to local bodies have to be transferred by the Delhi government, for which the recommendations of the 4th DFC have to be implemented.
“On October 5, the Centre further conveyed through Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh that while the Centre did release grants for local bodies as per recommendations of the Central Finance Commission, the award of the Commission was only for the states and not for Union Territories like Delhi,” the official said.