The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was conceived by policy makers about a decade after India’s independence and began its journey in April 1958 with 80 councillors, according to archival records.
According to old documents and reports that PTI had access to, and the opinion of many experts, the MCD was modeled along the lines of the ‘Bombay Municipal Corporation’ and was formed after the amalgamation of various local bodies and administrative committees.
The erstwhile unified MCD was then tripled in 2011 and three new public bodies emerged in 2012: North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC), which were unified into a single civil entity again in May 2022.
A new demarcation exercise was conducted after the Union Home Ministry set up a three-member panel to redraw Delhi’s municipal districts in July.
The central government subsequently set the total number of seats in the MCD at 250 from the previous figure of 272.
Citizen polls for the 250 wards are scheduled for December 4 and it will be Delhi’s first municipal elections after the new demarcation of the wards.
The election is largely seen as a three-way contest between the AAP, BJP and Congress. The BJP has been in power in the civil body since 2007 when the MCD was a unified body. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi was established under the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act of 1957.
According to records, there were 80 councilors in 1957, and successive demarcations increased the number of wards to 134 and finally to 272 in 2007. After trifurcation, the NDMC and SDMC each had 104 wards, while the EDMC had 64, to the three civic bodies were united in MCD at the beginning of this year.
According to the wording of the DMC Act, 1957, “The Municipal Government of Delhi was administered under the provisions of the Punjab District Boards Act, 1883 (2 of 1883) and the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911 (3 of 1911)”.
To manage the municipal affairs of Delhi, there were several agencies and local authorities, including the Municipal Committee, Delhi; Notified Area Committee, Civil Station; Notified Area Committee, Red Fort; Municipal Committee, Delhi-Shahdara; Municipal Committee, West Delhi; Municipal Committee, South Delhi; Notified Area Committee, Mehrauli; Notified Area Committee, Najafgarh; and the Notified Area Committee, Narela, said so.
Other local bodies were District Board, Delhi; Delhi State Electricity Board; Delhi Road Transport Authority; and Delhi Joint Water and Sewage Board, the law said.
“With so many agencies and local authorities handling municipal affairs, both the various authorities and the public were faced with complications and problems. There was a strong need for a unified body to run the Delhi Municipal Government. To consolidate and amend the laws pertaining to the Delhi municipal government, the Delhi Municipal Corporation Bill was introduced in parliament,” it said.
The Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, which was passed by both houses of parliament, was passed by the president on 28 December 1957.
The MCD thus came into being in 1958 when the Delhi got its first mayor, emerging from the municipal administration system that started around 1860. The headquarters of the newly formed civic body was located in the historic City Hall, an almost 160-year-old iconic building in the Chandni Chowk district, which also housed the erstwhile Delhi Municipality, and where the MCD remained until the late 2000s, before moving base to the posh 28-storey Civic Center in front of New Delhi Railway Station.
The Delhi area of Lutyen governed by the New Delhi Municipal Committee (later New Delhi Municipal Council) and the Delhi Cantonment areas were kept out of the scope of the new company.
As Delhi now has a unified municipal corporation and will soon have a city-wide mayor again after a 10-year hiatus, many constitutional experts have recalled the beginnings and journey of the former MCD, which they said was a “very powerful body” with a “very powerful mayor”.
Old documents and archival records, pertaining to the period when the MCD was conceptualized after merging a number of existing local bodies, state that it was modeled on the Bombay Municipal Corporation or BMC (now Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) which was established by the British in the second half of the 19th century to run the then Bombay Presidency.
Early this year, shortly after the proposed reunification of three companies, former Delhi Chief Secretary and ex-State Election Commissioner Rakesh Mehta had said, “The MCD already has the infrastructure, the Civic Center has a house to house all the councilors in one place, and also the mayor will have greater status because he is the first citizen of the city, as it was before the trifurcation”.
“In the unified era of the MCD, the mayor was the number one citizen of Delhi and a mayor received foreign dignitaries at the airport and gave civil receptions at the Red Fort or Ramlila Maidan,” a senior official said.
Delhi Transport Undertaking (later Delhi Transport Corporation), Delhi Water Board and some of the other units were previously also under the erstwhile MCD.
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