Will laptops solve East Delhi woes?

Public Money

Will laptops solve East Delhi woes?

While the area awaits better civic amenities, the corporation has decided to give high-end laptops to its councillors.

At a time when the fund-starved East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) has proposed a whole lot of new taxes on its citizens to boost its revenue for development work, what comes as a big surprise is that the corporation has also decided to give high-end laptops to its councillors, sanctioning no less than Rs 40.51 lakh for the purpose. Ironically, when people in East Delhi are struggling to have proper civic amenities, the EDMCs move to provide laptops highlights the callousness of the local body towards public.

According to councillors, the decision by EDMC commissioner SS Yadav to provide laptops is a “positive move to increase the pace of regular working and to monitor the corporation functioning”. Annapurna Mishra, Mayor East Delhi says, “Laptops are must for daily operations like sending e-mails and keeping a tab on the latest activities of the corporation.”

Supporting Annapurna’s view, independent councillor of Vasundhara Enclave, Vijendra Kumar Binny opines, “The MCD has already spent a whopping amount on the e-governance project.  Therefore, through laptops it will be easy to access details of projects sanctioned from funds.” Interestingly, EDMC seems to be unaware that corporation’s website has been out of service post-trifurcation and has not been updated for several months.

It is also surprising that the Congress who is always critical of the MCD ruling BJP is supportive on this very avoidable expense. Gurmeet Kaur, the Congress councillor in Mayur Vihar says, “Laptops will keep us informed about daily activities of the corporation, community events. But what is the point if we have to return it after five years or else pay Rs 20,000 to keep it with ourselves?”

But this unnecessary expenditure has raised public’s rant against the EDMC. “The municipal corporation has taken us for granted. By claiming that they have abject lack of funds, EDMC recently increased property tax, betterment tax, education cess, parking charges and imposed professional tax also. Now, within 10 days they have enough money to buy laptops for the councillors.  The money could have been used for the betterment of infrastructure which the area is in urgent need of,” says BS Vohra, president East Delhi RWA Joint Front.

He says that a majority of councillors are ignorant about operating laptops. “Nearly 60 per cent of the councillors would be unaware of how to operate these machines. They will make a computer operator sit beside them to do their task. It clearly indicates that EDMC is deriving benefits from us to fulfill their needs.”

Anita Sharma, a resident of Laxmi Nagar shares similar views. “Why are councillors in dire need of laptops? Laptops will not solve our problems of parking and better infrastructure. If EDMC is already facing a funds crunch then how come they have money for high-end laptops? It is completely unbearable to see our money going down the drains like this.”

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