AAP councillor and secretary of the Hardayal Municipal Heritage Public Library Preeti has written to Mayor Shelly Oberoi, the ex-officio chairperson of the library, over the blackout at the library due to non-payment of electricity bills for the past 32 months. Lala Hardayal library is a 161-year-old heritage library in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk area. The library has been functioning without basic amenities such as electricity, water, and washroom facilities amid alleged financial irregularities in the funds allocated for its operations.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has ordered the competent authorities to look into the matter and take necessary action at the earliest, according to its response dated November 16. Apart from this, the library complex’s four toilets don’t function. There is no drinking water. And the 95 staffers haven’t been paid since February 2021. Caught in a political slugfest between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), one of Delhi’s oldest public libraries - home to over 170,000 books - is in a state of sorry disrepair. The students and the staff members rely on paid toilets at the Chandni Chowk Metro station, around 200 metres away, and for drinking water, they head to the Kotwali police station, located behind the library.
In a letter to the mayor, Preeti requested to release the pending grant for the Hardayal library to clear the pending bills as early as possible. Electricity bills amounting to Rs 5 lakh have not been paid by the library, Preeti said.
The newly elected secretary also requested to release the salary of the employees which has allegedly been pending for long.
“On taking charge as secretary of HMHPL, it has come to my notice that electricity connection of the library has been discontinued due to non-payment of electricity bill and salary of employees has not been released for the past 32 months... It is requested that the pending grant of HMHPL by MCD may kindly be released as early as possible... For the smooth functioning of the library,” the letter read.
MCD had announced to clear the pending salaries of the employees before Diwali, however, the process got delayed due to the holidays in between, Preeti said.
“I had visited the library at the time of my appointment and I was despaired to see its condition. The staff and students are facing a lot of problems due to the electricity cut and lack of other amenities. I have written to the chairperson and hope that a solution will be found soon,” she said.
“We wanted to release the pending salaries of employees before Diwali but due to holidays it could not happen,” she added.
The library’s staff called off their indefinite strike earlier this month after the MCD promised to clear their dues following the appointment of a new management committee.