For­mer Fi­nance Min­is­ter

P. Chi­dam­abaram

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For 35-year-old Surili Singh, who is di­a­betic, mak­ing rounds of pop­u­lar shop­ping com­plexes in Delhi is a night­mare as there are hardly any pub­lic toi­lets for women. Talk­ing about her or­deal, the res­i­dent of east Delhi's Mayur Vi­har area says: "It's not just shop­ping com­plexes such as La­j­pat Na­gar, Jan­path or Saro­jini Na­gar mar­kets. The sit­u­a­tion is sim­i­larly dif­fi­cult for women through­out the Cap­i­tal, and, in fact, across the coun­try. Be­ing a di­a­betes pa­tient, it is some­times im­pos­si­ble for me to con­trol my blad­der." "A few toi­lets that Delhi has are so poorly main­tained and un­hy­gienic that one does not feel like us­ing them," she adds. Thou­sands of women in the Cap­i­tal face this prob­lem on a daily ba­sis. "With no pub­lic toi­lets for women in market ar­eas and along long stretches of road, we avoid liq­uid in­take for hours, which can ad­versely af­fect our health, es­pe­cially dur­ing sum­mers," says Vanita Sharma, a 21-year-old student of Delhi Univer­sity (DU). "This is so un­for­tu­nate that women in the na­tional Cap­i­tal are still strug­gling for ba­sic and un­avoid­able ne­ces­si­ties," says Kalpana Vish­wanath of Jagori, a women's or­gan­i­sa­tion. She adds: "Men can of­ten be seen re­liev­ing them­selves on road­sides in Delhi. For women trav­el­ling long dis­tances, es­pe­cially through ru­ral Delhi, ev­ery step is a night­mare. More well-lit and well-main­tained pub­lic toi­lets women is the need of the hour." Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study con­ducted by the Cen­tre for Ad­vo­cacy and Re­search in Delhi, in the ab­sence of a toi­let at home, 33 per cent of the to­tal house­holds de­pend on com­mu­nity toi­lets, while eight per cent opt for open defe­ca­tion. "Women are es­pe­cially af­fected as sev­eral in­ci­dents of eve-teas­ing, and mo­lesta­tion have been re­ported at com­mu­nity toi­lets, rais­ing con­cerns about the safety and se­cu­rity of young girls, women, and chil­dren," the study stated.

"We can­not use the com­mu­nity toi­let af­ter 7-8 pm be­cause men take over af­ter that," says Shanno, a res­i­dent of east Delhi's Kalyan­puri area. The is­sue of short­age of pub­lic toi­lets for women in the Cap­i­tal was also high­lighted in the Delhi High Court in 2016, fol­low­ing which the court had sought replies from the three Delhi Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tions. The pub­lic in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion sub­mit­ted in the HC stated that "out of the ex­ist­ing pub­lic toi­lets across Delhi, only about 5 per cent were meant for women." The civic bod­ies, how­ever, claimed that more and more pub­lic toi­lets for women were be­ing con­structed across the city. "We have re­cently built 14 dig­i­talised toi­let com­plexes in cen­tral Delhi, with the fa­cil­ity of san­i­tary pad dis­pensers," a se­nior New Delhi Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil of­fi­cial said. Sim­i­larly Mukesh Ya­dav, spokesper­son South Delhi Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion (SDMC), said: "Now these prob­lems will be a thing of the past as the SDMC has re­cently con­structed 146 new toi­let com­plexes and 200 more com­plexes are un­der con­struc­tion."

Waste burn­ing worst for pub­lic health, en­vi­ron­ment: NGT

Waste dump­ing sites pro­duce harm­ful gases and when put on fire, it be­comes the worst for pub­lic health and the en­vi­ron­ment, the Na­tional Green Tri­bunal has said. A bench headed by NGT chair­per­son Swatan­ter Kumar made the ob­ser­va­tion while form­ing a com­mit­tee headed by the sec­re­tary of Delhi govern­ment’s Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment de­part­ment to in­spect and file a re­port on in­dis­crim­i­nate burn­ing of waste in dump­ing sites at Ghazipur and Bhal­swa ar­eas here. “Need­less to note that these dump­ing sites, even with­out be­ing put on fire, gen­er­ate gases which are in­ju­ri­ous to the en­vi­ron­ment and pub­lic health. Once they are put on fire, in­ten­tion­ally or oth­er­wise, to re­duce the quan­tum of dumped waste at site, cer­tainly be­comes worst, both for hu­man health and en­vi­ron­ment,” the tri­bunal said. It noted that the emis­sion of gases vis­i­bly were highly pol­lut­ing and dan­ger­ous to hu­man health. The bench asked the panel to sub­mit a re­port by Wed­nes­day af­ter tak­ing note of var­i­ous pho­to­graphs show­ing dumps of waste “which are al­ready much be­yond the pre­scribed limit and are on fire”. “We there­fore con­sti­tute a Com­mit­tee con­sist­ing of Mem­ber Sec­re­tary, Cen­tral Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board, Mem­ber Sec­re­tary, Delhi Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Com­mit­tee and Chief En­gi­neers of the re­spec­tive Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tions,” it said. The tri­bunal said the re­port should be spe­cific and com­pre­hen­sive and the panel should col­lect air and gas sam­ples which would be an­a­lysed in re­la­tion to all its pos­si­ble con­stituents. The NGT also asked the panel to re­port why its ear­lier di­rec­tions were not com­plied with. In its or­der, the tri­bunal said that “if any step had been taken in that di­rec­tion, the cor­po­ra­tion and NCT, Delhi would be at lib­erty to bring it to

the no­tice of the Com­mit­tee.” “If no such sub­mis­sion is made be­fore the Com­mit­tee, it shall be pre­sumed that no step what­so­ever have been taken in fur­ther­ance to those judg­ments. If steps taken are brought to the no­tice of the Com­mit­tee, it shall ver­ify the same upon phys­i­cal in­spec­tion of the site. In­spec­tion should be com­pleted con­tin­u­ously, if nec­es­sary to­mor­row or day af­ter,” it said. The NGT also ap­pointed ad­vo­cate Rahul Khu­rana as an ob­server who shall also be a mem­ber of the com­mit­tee and listed the mat­ter for fur­ther hear­ing on March 9.

Cong plans to make corpns self-re­liant

Delhi Pradesh Congress Com­mit­tee (DPCC) chief Ajay Maken, along with for­mer Union min­is­ter P Chi­dambaram, re­leased a "blueprint" for fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity in the three mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions on Mon­day. The draft re­port fo­cuses on mak­ing the civic bod­ies fi­nan­cially self-re­liant. The high­lights of the re­port will be part of the party man­i­festo for the up­com­ing mu­nic­i­pal polls. Stress­ing on the poor per­for­mance of the BJP-ruled civic bod­ies, Maken said that right now only 33% of Delhi's pop­u­la­tion was pay­ing prop­erty tax and the party had failed to ex­pand the tax net. "There is a need for ma­jor re­forms in prop­erty tax col­lec­tion. BJP has failed to ex­pand the tax bracket. We aim to in­crease the prop­erty tax col­lec­tion by at least three times. We can use GIS and other tech­niques to iden­tify prop­er­ties," said Maken. He also pointed out that how the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties con­tin­ued to face em­ploy­ees' wrath over non-pay­ment of salary and ar­rears and how em­ploy­ees were forced to take to the streets to press for their de­mands. "The em­ploy­ees are not happy with the way civic bod­ies are func­tion­ing. There have been so many strikes due to non-pay­ment of their salaries for the past two years." He fur­ther said that New Delhi Mu­nic­i­pal Coun­cil ( NDMC) earns around Rs 450 crore an­nu­ally as rents. "NDMC looks af­ter only a small por­tion of Delhi, yet it is fi­nan­cially sta­ble and most of its ex­pen­di­ture is taken care of by in­ter­nal rev­enue sources. The three mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, on the other hand, have done noth­ing with their prop­er­ties," Maken claimed. Rev­enue gen­er­a­tion from other sources like park­ing, ad­ver­tise­ment and toll tax is equally abysmal, he said. "Most of the funds the three cor­po­ra­tions have re­ceived un­der Swachh Bharat Ab­hiyan re­mained un­spent. The ex­pen­di­ture in ma­jor sec­tors like san­i­ta­tion, ed­u­ca­tion and pri­mary health has gone down and a ma­jor chunk of bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion re­mains un­spent. In the past few years, the three cor­po­ra­tions have not com­pleted even a sin­gle de­vel­op­ment project in the cap­i­tal," Maken al­leged. Chi­dambaram stressed on the in­tro­duc­tion of mu­nic­i­pal bonds, which re­port­edly have made many civic bod­ies in smaller cities sel­f­re­liant. "Float­ing mu­nic­i­pal bonds and credit rat­ing for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are im­por­tant to bring trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity. The blueprint will be put in pub­lic do­main for 10 days to seek pub­lic sug­ges­tions and a fi­nal draft will be pre­pared by Congress. We

ap­peal to the pub­lic to come for­ward and give their sug­ges­tions," said the for­mer Union fi­nance min­is­ter.

Delhi Congress Un­veils Plan to End Mcds’ Fi­nan­cial Woes

Gear­ing up for mu­nic­i­pal polls, Delhi Congress on Mon­day came out with a de­tailed roadmap to re­vive the fi­nan­cial con­di­tion of the three mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions, claim­ing that Congress will make the “fi­nan­cially-ail­ing cor­po­ra­tions self-re­liant” within two years if voted to power. The draft plan was un­veiled by for­mer Fi­nance Min­is­ter P Chi­dam­abaram and Congress leader Jy­oti­ra­ditya Scin­dia, as the party is eye­ing a come­back in the civic elec­tions af­ter se­vere drub­bing in the last Delhi Assem­bly elec­tions in which it drew a blank. The for­mer Union Min­is­ter then quoted from the draft blueprint to but­tress his point. “So, if we look at the ar­rears to san­i­ta­tion work­ers, the EDMC has to give Rs 461.83 crore. Then the SDMC says, I am bet­ter with Rs 547.30 crore and then the NDMC de­cided to be the ‘best’ say­ing, the ar­rears stand at Rs 550 crore. It’s a race to hit the bot­tom first,” he al­leged. The draft blueprint also en­vis­ages Rs 2,000 crore an­nual fund for de­vel­op­ment of infrastructure-deficit ar­eas, par­tic­u­larly the unau­tho­rised colonies. The for­mer Fi­nance Min­is­ter said un­like other big cor­po­ra­tions, which gen­er­ate more than 50 per cent of the rev­enue from prop­erty tax col­lec­tion, the MCD is do­ing just about 40 per cent. “Both tax and non-tax rev­enue col­lec­tion in Delhi is un­for­tu­nately, far below par. Non-tax rev­enue through ar­eas like ad­ver­tis­ing and park­ing can def­i­nitely be boosted and the draft pro­poses that as well.” Delhi is a flour­ish­ing city, per capita in­come is the high­est, Chandi­garh is close, which means peo­ple have aspi­ra­tions to live a life of dig­nity. And peo­ple will pay if they have faith that the money will be spent wisely,” he said. Delhi Congress pres­i­dent Ajay Maken said “Prop­erty tax col­lec­tions in all the three mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions are re­mained un­changed for long. Ac­cord­ing to 4th fi­nance com­mis­sion re­port only one third el­i­gi­ble prop­er­ties comes un­der tax net. The col­lected Rs 1,600 crore as prop­erty tax is just 33 per cent of the po­ten­tial”. “Delhi could be self- re­liant if there is no cor­rup­tion and pil­fer­age of re­sources like rev­enue from toll tax, prop­erty tax, ad­ver­tise­ment charges. The roadmap on fis­cal man­age­ment and re­source gen­er­a­tion to make civic agen­cies fi­nan­cially self-re­liant,” Maken al­leged. “We will keep aside Rs 2000 crore per year for de­vel­op­ment of infrastructure deficit ar­eas par­tic­u­larly slums and unau­tho­rized colonies.The party would cre­ate spe­cial funds for the de­vel­op­ment of unau­tho­rized colonies, so as to en­sure that de­vel­op­ment works in these colonies do not suf­fer due to short­age of funds,” he said. He fur­ther said that it is in­deed very sur­pris­ing that while the Bom­bay Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion ( BMC) has a fixed de­posit of Rs 51,000 crore, the Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tions of Delhi do not have funds to pay the salaries of the san­i­ta­tion work­ers, and pen­sions of oth­ers. We have the ex­pe­ri­ence, will­ing­ness and plans to make the MCDs self-re­liant.

For­mer Fi­nance Min­is­ter P. Chi­dam­abaram

Delhi Congress pres­i­dent Ajay Maken

Swatan­ter Kumar, Chair­per­son, NGT

Congress leader Jy­oti­ra­ditya Scin­dia

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