You will see a different Delhi by next year: Mayor

- July 8, 2023
| By : Muhammad Tahir |

Delhi Mayor Shelly Oberoi says she wants to create a clean Delhi, upgrade MCD schools and clinics, solve problems like water crisis and root out corruption by creating fear among officers

Oberoi conveyed the plan for greater administrative oversight, stating that deputy commissioners have been tasked with identifying and monitoring all points of garbage accumulation within their respective zones

Shelly Oberoi, who was re-elected to the post of Delhi Mayor in April after a brief stay in the position in her first stint this year, says her priority is to ensure the implementation of 10 guarantees made by the Aam Aadmi Party.

The 39-year-old Mayor, a former visiting assistant professor at Delhi University and a Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor from ward No. 86 of Patel Nagar constituency, has also made surprise visits to hospitals and schools to check their functioning.

Also read: School with a difference

This is the first time in 15 years that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) is in the hands of a non-BJP dispensation.

In an exclusive interview with Patriot, the Mayor talks about MCD’s plans especially on problems like garbage heaps, sanitation, water crisis, electricity, role of the opposition among others.


Q. What are your priorities for Delhi’s people?

A. MCD has many pending works which couldn’t be completed in the last 15 years [while BJP was ruling it]. People of Delhi have many hopes from us with regards to schools, medical facilities and the good governance model that the AAP state government has provided. There are many commitments (guarantees) that we (MCD) made to people, so we have started working on them. You will see the results of it in the coming six months to a year.

Q. Are you focussing on some specific areas, such as education and health?

A. See, the most important work of MCD is sanitation and cleanliness. These are the priorities and will remain so in future because we want to see Delhi as a clean city. Apart from this, we have planned an education model for MCD schools. So you will see the change in all of Delhi’s MCD primary schools. Hospitals and dispensaries will be the same as Delhi government’s.

Q. You have alleged that the condition of MCD schools was poor in BJP’s tenure. However, recently an MCD primary school, which I also visited, was adjudged as among the best by a foreign organisation.

A. The school which has been selected in the top 10 was selected on various parameters. The most important parameter for those schools is ‘community participation’. There, the parents of the students who study there come to school and interact with them and try to teach in a play-way method. The school was selected among the top only on this basis.

Q. Do you have something new for MCD schools?

A. MCD schools face many problems on account of infrastructure, computer facilities, teachers and guards. There is also a shortage of DOP and many schools don’t have proper toilets and bathrooms. If you check the overall status, MCD schools are in a vulnerable situation. We will work on them.

Q. BJP has alleged that you don’t want to fill the teachers’ vacancy in MCD schools.

A. MCD has been facing financial problems and every department has a shortage of manpower. The salaries of employees had been pending for six months. But we have paid them and now, only one month’s salary is pending. We are planning to fill in the vacancies soon. Special and ad-hoc committees couldn’t be formed in MCD, so some problems haven’t been resolved due to that.

Q. In your 10 MCD guarantees, you promised to remove the landfills. How will you go about it?

A. All the three garbage mountains were given to Delhi’s people by the previous dispensation. The garbage removal work is going on 24 hours every day. If you see the Bhalswa site, the size of the garbage heap has decreased. Biomining work is continuing all day long. We have set some targets. These garbage mountains will decrease day by day. Also, we don’t want these mountains to decrease only for fresh garbage to be dumped here. I am also working on it.

Q. What do you do with this garbage?

A. We are segregating the waste into three types. Then, we recycle it and use it to make fertilisers. Also, MCD has signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), so that the waste can be used in road construction. Apart from this, we are making citizens and housing societies aware of the problem and the initiative that needs to be taken so that the plan is successful. Many colonies have been made zero waste.

Q. The MCD officials have demanded that the deadline for removing the garbage piles be extended by seven months.

A. Obviously, these are big garbage sites so it will take time and some challenges like the rainy season have already begun. But we have coordinated with the officers and are trying to clean it within the deadline we have fixed.

Q. Pollution is another big problem in Delhi. Your party promised to make the city pollution-free and clean the city but the situation hasn’t improved.

A. Pollution does not come within the purview of the MCD. It is for the environment department to solve it. But we are also very serious about it. It is possible [to reduce pollution] only when the public becomes aware. The government alone can’t do it. Public also needs to collaborate to solve the problem of pollution.

Q. Water-logging and water crisis both are also big problems for Delhiites. How do you plan to tackle these issues

A. We have held inter-departmental meetings involving officers from MCD, Delhi Development Authority (DDA), PWD (Public Works Department), Metro and others over the last 15 days on the problem of water-logging and are fully prepared for the rainy season.

We have made a control room in all the 12 Delhi zones. These run for 24 hours daily in three shifts. We have also set up pumps to reduce water-logging. We have temporary pumps for areas where water-logging may happen unexpectedly. So, all the departments are working together on it.

As far as the water crisis is concerned, we know that people face shortage of water during summers every year. However, the honourable Chief Minister himself held three meetings with the Delhi Jal Board. We are working on it and soon we will come up with a permanent solution for Delhi’s water crisis.

ALL SET: Shelly Oberoi has said that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has prepared well for the rainy season to overcome water logging. (Photo: Getty)

Q. The opposition has alleged that there is a mafia and officials are involved in it, leading to the water crisis. They have also protested many times against it. Some women in Vasant Kunj have complained about bribing by local workers while I was reporting on water crisis in this area.

A. The opposition’s job is only to criticise the government, and they always do that. They don’t see our good work but only want to provoke the public. Sometimes, it can happen that an officer at the bottom is involved in it (seeking bribes for approving water tankers). It is tough to keep a track of such people and we can’t guarantee that they won’t do it again. But our party is honest, and we will try to control these people involved in the mafia too.

Q. The electricity rates in Delhi have been hiked by 10%. Congress has protested against it. They are alleging that you have broken your promise. The lower-middle class, which openly supports you due to free electricity, can be affected.

A. Not only the weaker sections, but all Delhiites who get 200 units of free electricity are very happy. If the Central government raises the price of raw materials, then we have to increase the prices too, otherwise the situation will become out of control. However, we will try to find a solution for the lower-middle class that will be affected by the price rise. We are taking the protest by the opposition as a challenge.

Q. There have been multiple cases of demolition in Delhi due to the upcoming G20 summit and lakhs of people have been displaced. Your government promised jahaan jhuggi, wahin makaan. You have also promised to turn kachchi colonies into a pakki colonies.

A. Yes, we have promised [to turn kachchi colonies into pakki colonies] and we are trying to fulfil our promises, but it will take time. (The Mayor refused to answer the question on demolition due to the G20 Summit).

Q. Delhiites have also complained about stray animals and monkey menace.

A. We have involved many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) regarding this and we have also met animal activists. We also want to involve the people through community participation.

Q. In the mayoral election, there were very disturbing scenes of clashes between the parties. How do you hope to work with the opposition?

A. The whole country witnessed their unconstitutional activities. It was a fight for the truth and you can see the truth today — the mayor and her deputy are here in their seats. I think no one should be involved in acts that go against the constitution.

Q. How will you remove corruption in MCD?

A. AAP government has been elected in MCD. We are an honest party and want to weed out corruption. We are running an MCD which is now free of corruption because there is fear among officers at the bottom level.

Q. But the opposition is alleging that AAP’s Delhi government is also corrupt.

A. The job of the opposition is only to criticise our work and make allegations. We will continue to take it as a challenge.