Explained: MCD Election Dates Announced; How The Unification Of MCD Will Impact Its Function

Delhi's East, North, and South civic bodies were unified into one Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) earlier this year.

Explained: MCD Election Dates Announced; How The Unification Of MCD Will Impact Its Function

The elections to the unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) will be held on December 4 and counting of votes will be held on December 7, announced the Delhi State Election Commission on Friday.

The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) has come into effect in Delhi with the announcement of MCD election schedule on Friday.

Delhi State Election Commissioner Vijay Dev further announced that filing of nominations for MCD polls will begin from November 7.

ANI reported Dev as saying that voting will be held in 250 municipal wards following the delimitation process.

"Forty-two seats reserved for scheduled castes (SCs). Out of those 42 seats for SC, 21 seats will be for SC women. One hundred and four seats will be reserved for women...The issue of notification will be on November 7 and will end on November 14. The last date of withdrawal of candidature is November 19," said Dev, as per ANI.

The MCD was unified from multiple civic bodies into one earlier this year.

The unification of MCD

The civic map of the national capital Delhi was formally redrawn in May when the unification of Delhi's civic bodies came into effect.

Amid protests from Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and other Opposition parties, the Union government earlier this year passed the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which merged the East, North, and South municipal corporations of Delhi into one Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). 

Two pockets of the city will, however, continue to have their own civic bodies — the New Delhi Municipal Council that primarily covers the Lutyens' Delhi and Delhi Cantonment Board that manages the cantonment area. Together, these two bodies only cover 4 per cent of the city, meaning 96 per cent of Delhi is now under one civic body. 

Here we explain the idea behind the unification, the changes that will now be introduced, and how this new entity will function.

Why were civic bodies unified?

The unified MCD is not new. Delhi used to have a unified MCD until 2012, when it was trifurcated into East, North, and South civic bodies. 

The need to decentralise the city's civil administration was said to be behind the trifurcation, but that did not go as per plans as the three bodies ended up having unequal resources, responsibilities, and their poor financial health affected their work over the years.

The MCD was unified with the idea to remedy the financial difficulties, unequal distribution of resources, wage-related issues, and frequent strikes by employees, reported The Economic Times

Of the three bodies, only the South MCD was financially viable, and the other two were running into losses, as per ET.  

What changed with unification?

The first change was that previous boundaries of civil bodies ended as the entire city —barring small pockets of Lutyens' Delhi and cantonment— came under one body. This would have been the easiest thing to implement, as per The Indian Express.

A senior leader told The Express, "Unlike the MCD trifurcation in which fresh maps had to be drawn, now one has to just declare that it all comes under one corporation."

The next step would have been to bring the employees under one umbrella, which is expected to not have affected the lower level staff but up to a third of senior posts would have been reduced, noted The Express, which would have cut redundancy and salary expenses.

It reported, "For example, there will be one director for each department such as horticulture, sanitation, education, health, hospital, etc. in the unified corporation instead of the existing three directors, one for each of the three MCDs. The same will apply to commissioners, committee heads, and mayors."

Advantages of unified MCD

Yogendra Singh Mann, a former director of the North MCD’s press and information wing, told The Express, “Firstly, there would be a balance of resources, income, and expenses. Currently, North regularly suffers from a delay in the payment of salaries. After the unification, there will be uniformity.” 

Mann added that civil planning would improve with a centralised authority for things like parking rates, property tax, and new initiatives for the city.

An India Today story noted that resolving the power tussle between officials and elected representatives would also be an idea behind the unification along with giving a bailout package to the MCD to clear it backlogs as North and East MCDs had been running into losses.

It reported, "Through MCD unification, the Centre might chip in to bailout the MCD by providing one-time package to clear the backlogs occurred so far. Due to this crisis, employees are unable to get salaries on time and most of the times they have to wait for months to get their salaries."

How has unified MCD functioned so far?

The Centre in May appointed IAS officer Ashwani Kumar as the the special officer of unified MCD and Gyanesh Bharti as its commissioner.

Then, the exercise to reshuffle and reorganise the municipal staff began, reported PTI at the time.

The terms of South, North, and East civic bodies ended in May. The special officer and commossioner then took over over the role of elected councillors and municipal committees until fresh elections following the delimitation exercise.