Hindustan Times (Delhi)
Lack of planning, poor fund strategy hurting Delhi: LG
UNDER LENS Baijal highlights problems plaguing city at WRI global seminar, says all agencies must come together to resolve issues
NEW DELHI: Poor financial management, lack of planning and unresponsive service delivery systems are plaguing the national capital, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal said while addressing a global seminar in Delhi on Wednesday.
Baijal, while speaking at the seminar, ‘Connect Karo’, organised by World Resources Institute (WRI) Ross Centre, cited Delhi’s example and said that urban areas in the city have been facing inadequate, ineffective and unresponsive service delivery systems with utility networks poorly maintained and under-invested. He said that urban local bodies are suffering from two key challenges on the capacity front — like lack of expertise on urban management and shortage of manpower.
“The quality of urban governance needs to be improved. City administrations do not have competent and skilled operational staff to manage cities, which have become extremely complex places to govern today,” Baijal said in his nearly 20-minute speech on sustainable cities.
The L-G’S comments came at a time when the Delhi government is facing staff shortage with an average of 50% posts lying vacant across various departments. A report on the staff crunch was prepared by the Delhi government’s political executive and tabled in the Assembly by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Wednesday. It states that departments such as law are functioning with as much as 87% vacancies.
Baijal also highlighted how overlapping jurisdictions was affecting governance in the national capital. “In Delhi, there are occasions where it is almost impossible for residents to ascertain whether a colony would receive its water and power supply from one agency or under which authority will a land parcel fall for sanction of a building plan. This multiplicity of authority factor is peculiar to Delhi and you won’t find it anywhere else,” he said.
Faced with lack of coordination between agencies negatively impacting work, the L-G said that the practice of including urban local bodies only in implementation of projects and not in the planning stage needs to be changed. Baijal’s view reflects in the condition of Delhi’s roads today. Road owning agencies like the municipal corporations and the public works department are responsible for its maintenance, but they do not have the power to prosecute violators for offences like encroachments. Even as talks are on to empower such officials, challaning powers continue to be only with the traffic police and the enforcement team of the trans- port department.
“Urban local bodies have been denied meaningful engagement in planning and delivery of services. Planning has been a neglected instrument. As a result, most of the notified 5,100 towns do not have any city plan. By the time the city administration wakes up to the necessity of a master plan, the urban scale gets so badly tarred by haphazard development that no planning body can bring any sense to the situation,” Baijal said.
The ongoing sealing drive against commercial establishments is an example of how the civic bodies did not consider the provisions laid under the Master Plan of Delhi (MPD), 2021, and allowed rampant unauthorised constructions. The MPDS, on the other hand, are drafted by land owning agency Delhi Development Authority with little participation from local bodies.
Baijal added that state finance commissions in most states have been formed but their recommendations are hardly ever followed.