Monday, Apr 07, 2003
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By Our Staff Reporter
The year-long tenure of Ms. Panwar comes to an end on Monday when she would be replaced by her party colleague from Hauz Khas, Ashok Kumar Jain, after the formal election for this post at Town Hall tomorrow afternoon.
Though the credit for urban reforms, which the Leader of the House in MCD, Ram Babu Sharma, terms as "revolutionary'' given the mess they inherited from the BJP last year, cannot be denied to the visionary Municipal Commissioner, Rakesh Mehta but it is always the name of Ms. Panwar which will be remembered as the one during whose tenure the MCD started marching ahead.
With the Assembly elections likely to be held in six months from now and then the parliamentary elections due next year, it would be tough for her successors to carry on with the municipal reforms with such vigour and dynamism like the implementation of unit area system for the assessment of house tax, launching of e- services through citizen services bureau, privatisation of toll tax and public-private participation in collection and management of solid waste.
It is only due to these urban reforms that the MCD has been given a favourable credit rating by Indian Credit Rating Agency (ICRA) thus paving the way for the civic body issuing municipal bonds worth Rs. 250 crores this fiscal year. Senior ICRA officials had publicly acknowledged the significance of these reforms in fixing a higher credit for the MCD.
Panwar's bold announcement in March that "shakhas'' of the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangha (RSS) would not be permitted in parks of the municipality would make her go down into the annals of MCD history as a woman who took head on the fundamentalist and communal forces of the Capital. Though the Congress-ruled Government of Himachal Pradesh has taken a clue from Ms. Panwar and banned Shakhas in their parks, the MCD, with her tenure, it seems, is all set not to pursue the matter, presumably under pressure from the soft-Hindutva lobby in the Congress and also due to the fear that this might polarise the voters on communal lines, thus hitting their electoral prospects.
Being a woman, she showed her concern for the poor, children and downtrodden of the Capital. Her surprise visit to Nigambodh Ghat cremation ground, leaving the budget-session midway, and to MCD godowns, following complaints that wet wood was supplied for the funeral of the deceased and jerseys were not distributed to the municipal students in the winter respectively, reflected her compassion.
Though during her year-long tenure, at least twice her name was dragged into controversies -- purchase of trucks and alleged bungling into the Hardayal Municipal Public Library. But in both cases nothing concrete so far has been found against her and if the issues were probed deeper, there are chances that names of several other politicians would figure.
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