In a decision of considerable significance to millions of Delhi residents, the central government is believed to have finally agreed to put the poorly-run Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) under the control of the state government.
'We have approved it (placing MCD under the Delhi government). A note has been sent to the Delhi government,' a senior home ministry official confirmed to IANS.
The move comes ahead of the Commonwealth Games to be held in the capital next year and the need to present to the millions of visitors a megalopolis that looks and functions as a world-class city.
The MCD, which caters to nearly 96 percent of the land area in the city, is run by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and is currently under the central government.
'The things will be formalised in the next week after taking into account the views of all the stakeholders,' the official added.
The Congress-led Delhi government and the MCD have always crossed swords, while the former accuses it of 'inefficiency', the latter cites 'step-motherly' treatment in fund allocations.
In the past few days, the demand for state government's direct control over the civic body has grown strong as rains brought the capital to a standstill, and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit slammed the agency for 'poor performance'.
Reacting to the news, MCD Mayor Kanwar Sen said: 'This is a politically motivated step. We protest it. Because they (the Congress) have a government at the centre and in the state, they are trying to take undue advantage. It is also an infringement on the rights of the municipal corporation.
'We will discuss with our senior leaders and take opinion of legal experts to outline our future course of action. We are ready to go to court if needed or to come out on the streets to protest,' Sen told IANS.
'The allegations of inefficiency against the MCD are nothing but the Delhi government's malicious campaign to cover up the inefficiencies of their own agencies,' Sen added.
The MCD came into existence April 7, 1958, under an act of parliament. It is one of three civic bodies in Delhi, the others are the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), which looks after an area of about 42 sq km of central Delhi, and the Delhi Cantonment Board.
Successive chief ministers, particularly Dixit, have been pleading for placing the MCD, perceived by the average citizen as a highly corrupt and unresponsive local body, under the control of the state government to streamline its functioning and make it accountable to the public.