Present Delhi Mayor Rajni Abbi is vibrant, ambitious, full of new, innovative ideas for a ‘new’ Delhi so that its denizens feel proud of being Delhiites. She has already begun calling shots in that direction with a full gusto. Observers say, she will achieve her mission for Delhi mainly because she is an out and out Delhiites herself. She is thus fully aware with the needs for Delhi. Rationale, fluent, cool, Abbi did her doctorate in law from the Delhi University and is now a professor of law in Delhi University’s Law Faculty. It is then only apparent that she reads between the lines easily and so, she is more effective in her mayoral work/s than many others. The otherwise recalcitrant MCD insiders who refuse to listen to top bosses of the MCD are aware of this quality of Abbi and so, they do indeed heed to her seriously. They know fully well that “she can crack the whip any time she would want because she couldn’t care less for any one”. She speaks about her role as mayor of Delhi in an interview with LOK PANCHAYAT.
As Mayor of Delhi, what are your plans for Delhi ?
Since the time I have become Mayor of Delhi, I have had a very clear vision on how Delhi should look like (in the coming days). Delhi is a place which is known for its modernity and heritage (dating back to many centuries; Indraprastha during Mahabharat days taken into account or even before). So we gave to balance the (all round) growth of Delhi. I really (and sincerely) wish all the people living in Delhi should (indeed) be proud living in Delhi. (I am talking of) the kind of feeling we find in the people living in Mumbai. They seriously nurture the feeling ‘amchi Mumbai’ (and look after Mumbai in that spirit). I too support this that all the people living in Delhi should have the same feeling towards Delhi and should be proud of being Delhiites and should take care of this city with all seriousness and sincerity. They should always feel that this city is their city. Hence, this city should be always ‘perfect’ in all senses of the term. The first thing I did after becoming Mayor was to provide sanitation to the people in Delhi. I have started the sanitation drive from May 20 to June 19. Since then I have been taking rounds of almost all wards of Delhi to see myself the sanitation conditions in the city. I know there are lot of (obvious and apparent) difficulties in cleaning Delhi due to multiplicity of problems. The areas are starkly divided and not all areas in the capital belong to the MCD. Some areas belong to the PWD, some to the CPWD, some to the Cantonment Board, some NDMC, some to the DDA so on and so forth. Despite such multiplicity of incharges, if we inculcate the rational and proper civic sense among the people in Delhi that because it is their Delhi, they have a bigger role to play in keeping the Delhi city clean. If we can achieve this target then we can achieve this target of keeping Delhi clean. Another thing (in Delhi) that is a problem is a (rampant and rapid) haphazard growth in the city over a period of years. (Since there is no uniformity, rationale in the growth, all civic plans and the subsequent actions go awry. There is no uniformity in it). There is a lot of mushrooming of unplanned, haphazard growth in the city not only in old Delhi but in new Delhi also. Further, the policy which the Supreme Court has laid down regarding hoarding and display of advertisements etc, these are also constantly flouted. We at the Municipal Corporation of Delhi are really trying to curtail this habit of people who are illegally advertising their products. Sometimes these prove dangerous also (in terms of accidents like the hoardings falling down etc). Another feature we are starting in the MCD is e-governance. We are bringing around 71 services of the corporation online. Right from getting a birth certificate, death certificate to getting building plan sanctioned, paying house tax, licenses… all these will be online. And these will be available at your doorstep. This way MCD will be 24 x 7 for every person living in Delhi. I really wish by the time I finish my tenure, I will make MCD most competitive and that is what I strive for (in all sincerity).
How far do you support Delhi Chief Minister’s contention that the MCD should be divided so that it can have proper control over the administration of the city and will be always accountable unlike now when a single MCD finds it difficult to administer Delhi because of its largeness?
Regarding the division of the Corporation, I personally feel that it is going to make corporation weak. Because if you see the 73rd and 74th amendment of the Constitution, there was a strong emphasis on making gram panchayats and municipal bodies as strong bodies. If we divide the corporation, it will become weak. Not only will it become weak, it will put another burden of Rs 2000 crores on the people of Delhi. Because we would require more infrastructure, more officers etc. Moreover, I feel, there will be a lot of disputes regarding expenditures, revenues, assets, liabilities etc.
How can you divide Delhi which is dil of India. How can you divide Delhi into three parts and then say, Delhi has a composite culture?
I sincerely feel that this effort to divide Delhi will not only kill the spirit of Delhi’s oneness but also its growth.
But ma’am sitting in Town Hall in Chandni Chowk, how will you know what the MCD is doing in say, Hauz Khas, Kalu Sarai or Mehrauli which are in extreme south of Town Hall?
To wriggle out of such problems, we have divided Delhi into 12 zones. We are giving more specific powers to these 12 zones so that they can effectively look after their respective areas…It is exactly like federalism. We have a strong Centre (Town Hall in this case) and a strong division (12 zones). It will be very effective and beneficient for the entire Delhi. We will strengthen 12 divisions so that we have better control over Delhi. I do not think dividing the corporation would solve the problem (of Delhi’s ills).
What will be the exact problems if the MCD is divided?
Suppose there is a long road which falls half in this MCD and half in that MCD. Half the road will be made and the other half will be made as per the will of the other MCD. Then the maintenance of the road…who will be incharge of it…it will be big confusion. What about the drains in Delhi? It is full with drains. These drains go from one part of Delhi to the other. Now which MCD will be incharge of maintaing, cleaning them will be a big confusion. Then, who is going to determine what will be the house tax rates. What is going to be the toll tax? It will not be a consistent scenario then. Confusion will arise. … So there are going to be a lot of (practical) problems.
What about the builder’s encroachment?
It is indeed a very big problem in this city. We at the MCD are trying very hard to sort this out. We are going for demolition of the illegal portions and extra spaces utilised for construction beyond the permissible limits. We are trying our best to curtail this. But we do need public participation in this. The public should realise and remembers that if norms are made then they for their good and there should not be any flouting of the rules. We are talking of planning Delhi in a composite way. Every individual thinks of himself but no one thinks of Delhi. This mindset needs to be changed. We are making efforts towards that direction with all sincerity in our command.