Municipal officials said that the day will mark the first formal meeting of the civic body under the commissioner on June 1, 1863 The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) held its first meeting on June 1, 1863, after the civic body was formally constituted in February that year, senior MCD officials said.
They added that the Heritage Cell of the civic body will table a proposal this month in the House to mark June 1 every year as ‘Municipal Day’ or ‘Nagar Nigam Diwas’ to celebrate the beginning of formal civic governance in the national Capital.
A senior official aware of the development said the municipality in Delhi came into being in February 1863. “We have searched the records available in old municipal files, municipal library and archives. It has been found that the Delhi municipality came into being in February 1863, and a committee which acted like a constituent committee was set up to frame by-laws to run the city in April 1863.
The first meeting of the general committee was held with the commissioner in the chair on June 1, 1863. We have proposed to celebrate the day as Municipal Day,” he added.
In 1863, the city area under the municipality was confined to two square miles with 1.21 lakh inhabitants. Now, it has grown more than 1,400 sq. kms. with an estimated population of more than 20 million.
During 1863, the first sanitation and conservancy system was set-up, a Unani dispensary was opened in Sadar Bazar and for the first time, registration of births and deaths was introduced. The subsequent years saw introduction of firefighting system, water supply and taxation being introduced.
The proposal moved by the Heritage Cell, a copy of which has been seen by HT, says that Delhi municipality is one of the oldest civic governance bodies in the country, which “deserves due recognition”.
“Incidentally, Municipal Corporation of Delhi is the second largest municipal body in the world. Usually, all the big and historical organisations celebrate their foundation day to inculcate a feeling of pride in their employees, showing the rich heritage of the organisation and its values. No such day has been marked by the MCD so far,” says the proposal that is expected to be tabled in the House of councillors by month-end.
Deep Chand Mathur, who worked as the MCD director of information between 1980 and 2011, said that there have been five major changes in the number of elected municipal representatives so far.
“The civic body had just 80 councillors till 1963. But then, a major decentralisation exercise was taken up with a number of powers were delegated to zonal committees and the number of councillors was raised to 100 in 1967. The number did not change for another 26 years, and then it was raised to 134 in 1993,” Mathur said.
“Between 1993 and 2002, MCD elections were fought over 134 seats. In 2007, the number of wards was increased to 272. Last year, while the Centre reunited the three separate corporations, the number of wards was reduced to 250,” Mathur said.
A second MCD official said that till 1957, municipal government in Delhi was administered as per the provisions of the Punjab District Boards Act, 1883 and the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911. There were 13 different bodies including 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; Notified Area Committee, Narela; The District Board, Delhi; Delhi State Electricity Board; Delhi Road Transport Authority; and The Delhi Joint Water and Sewage Board, the second official said.
The official said that these committees were governed by the local authorities, as there was no unified municipal body. “The need to have a unified body to administer municipal affairs was being felt strongly, and thus a unified MCD was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1958,” the official added.
Subhash Arya, former MCD mayor and veteran municipal councillor from BJP who has worked with corporation for over 25 years, said that Delhi has had a long history of municipal governance, and the Town Hall in Chandni Chowk has been the centre of this history. “Many even after Independence, areas like Mehrauli, Civil Lines, Najafgarh had their own committees which were merged to in 1958. We saw its trifurcation in 2012, and reunification in 2022.
MCD has played a key role in Delhi’s governance over the last century. We moved to new Civic Center, a decade ago and this entire journey should be showcased by setting up a museum at Town hall,” he said.
Source: The Hindustan Times