The First Delhi Legislative Assembly

(Budget Session)

06th JANUARY, 1997

           Speaker Sir and Hon’ble Members,

  I welcome you all to this, the first session of year 1997. For me it is both a pleasure and privilege to be addressing this august House almost immediately after assuming charge of my present assignment.
  My Government has just completed three years since it assumed office in December, 1993. A significant development during 1996 was the change of Government at the Centre. The year also saw election of seven new members to the Lok Sabha from Delhi. Elections to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi are now stated to be held in February, 1997. My Government is committed to providing a transparent and clean administration. It is also keen to ensure that the citizens of Delhi have easy access to essential civic services in the capital. Redressal of public grievances is, therefore, receiving the highest priority. The problems of Trans-Yamuna area are being tackled effectively through close monitoring and provisions of adequate funds. A reliable public transportation system, construction of an Express Highway to divert heavy traffic and clean River Yamuna also figure high on our priorities.
  The year 1996 saw a sharp focus on the environmental problems of Delhi. It is not only the Government which took up environmental issues but also the judiciary which played an active role in encouraging the Government to take certain steps towards reducing environmental pollution. As a result the local civic bodies stepped up their cleanliness drive and made a visible impact. The good work being done will continue but it is necessary that the citizens of Delhi also cooperate in making Delhi a cleaner and healthier place to live. It will also be our endeavour to ensure that there will be no stray cattle on the streets of Delhi by the end of 1997.
  The Delhi Transport Corporation has finally been transferred back to my Government by the Government of India in August, 1996. Ever since, all out efforts are being made by the Government to ensure that the DTC fleet becomes commercially viable. The Transport department is also considering ways and means to not only augment the existing fleet but also to ensure its better utilisation to the best advantage of the common man. In this context, Government of India’s help will also be sought. Recently when the private transporters had gone on strike it was the DTC which alleviated the sufferings of the citizens of Delhi.
  The proposal for an environment-friendly Mass Rapid Transit System had been pending with the Government of India since long. The renewal of Food Cards which had been pending since long was taken up in right earnest and the work is likely to be completed by the end of January, 1997. As, a result, it is expected that a substantial number of ghost food cards would be weeded out. The Delhi Wheat (Licencing & Control) Order, 1996 has been enforced to discourage hoarding. The work on computerisation to ensure more effective monitoring of the public distribution system has made good progress and is likely to be completed by the end of the current financial year. Two additional District Forums have been set up, one at Janak Puri and the other at Nand Nagri.
  A major step has been taken towards the streamlining and decentralisation of district and revenue administration, with the setting up of 27 sub-divisions and 9 districts, coterminous with the police districts. This had been a long pending proposal which has finally been implemented. Similarly some far reaching changes have been made by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to upgrade and strengthen their zonal set up so that the delivery system in respect of civic services is further streamlined and the public have easy access to the concerned officials for obtaining required decision without having to go all the way to the headquarters.
  Integrated rural development in villages has continued to be an area of priority for the Government. Under the Mini Master Plan, acquisition of land for the development of Growth Centres and Growth Points is being expedited. In the meantime, work on multipurpose community centres and playgrounds has been completed in 25 villages.
  Under Social Welfare Schemes the Government has undertaken implementation of various schemes for the welfare of children, women, physically handicapped persons and other weaker sections of society. Vocational training courses have been started in collaboration with Department of Technical Education for the children, women and other inmates of various institutions of the Department of Social Welfare. Courses such as typing, food preservation, tailoring and plumbing will help in the rehabilitation of the inmates of the Homes. Financial assistance for handicapped children and TB patients and scholarships for school going children of widows and disabled persons have been increased substantially. One time grant of Rs. 5,000 is also being given to widows falling in the age-group of 50 to 60 years.
The Government has continued to remain vigilant regarding the upliftment and development of persons belonging to SC/ST. Four new schemes relating to the setting up of a pre-examination coaching centre at Dilshad Garden, encouragement of inter-cast marriages and financial assistance for girls on their birth as also their marriages are being implemented. Books and stationery worth about Rs. 1 crore are being distributed free of cost to nearly 50,000 SC/ST students. The interest of the other backward classes are also being protected through the policy of reservation.
Jail administration has been streamlined and attention has been particularly paid with regards to the health and medical care of prisoners. Jail No. 5, with a capacity of 700 prisoners has been commissioned in March, 1996, reducing thereby, the acute congestion in Tihar Jail. The vocational, educational and rehabilitation activities of prisoners is also being given close attention.
The menace of encroachment on public lands, roads and unauthorised construction has been receiving the special attention of the Government. The District Task Force and the Special Task Force have been set up to effectively tackle this problem. The results of the action taken by the DTF and STF have been encouraging and further measures are being thought of to make them even more effective.
The problems of slum dwellers continue to receive the closet attention of this Government and in this context, an Expert Study Group has been constituted by the Government to study in details the programmes and issues relating to rehabilitation of slum dwellers and JJ clusters.
On the electricity front, we have taken up with the Government of India the setting up of the Electricity Board, and a decision is expected soon. We have, during the last few weeks, faced some serious problems in the matter of supply of electricity because of disturbances in the northern grid. This only goes to show that, for a stable and reliable supply of electricity in Delhi, it is essential that more generating stations are set up in the vicinity of Delhi exclusively for the capital. Keeping in view the serious environmental problems of Delhi it is imperative that the existing thermal stations are converted into gas and naphtha based units. We have already taken up this matter with the Government of India, DESU is taking various steps to reduce T & D losses. Keeping in view the latest directives of the Government of India, DESU would have to make pre-payment with regard to supply of electricity and coal. This will necessitate substantial streamlining of DESU’s functioning as otherwise, the supply of electricity will be restricted to the amount paid.
My Government has adopted a progressive tax policy based on optimal rationalisation of the tax rates. Steps taken so far have been towards a transport, rational, progressive and user friendly tax regime, that brings in buoyancy in tax collection, reduces hardships of the dealers, and lessens the burden on the tax administration. As a result of my Government’s policies, these has been a record increase in the Sales Tax revenue over the last three years. In 1994-95, a record increase of 26.71% was achieved which was followed by an increase of 21% during 1995-96 over the previous year. The buoyancy has continued in 1996-97 also with a collection of Rs. 1124.23 crores in sales tax from 1st April to 30th December, 1996 showing an increase of 16.9% over the collection during the corresponding period of the last year.
With a view to simplify the procedure and also enhance the tax revenue, sales tax on 26 items was abolished and the limit for self assessment raised to Rs. 30 lakhs.
The Delhi Tax on luxuries Act, 1996 has been made effective from 1.11. 1996. This is expected to yield an addition revenue of about Rs. 100 crores per annum.
The Government of India has recently delegated powers for the creation of Group A,B,C & D posts, both on the plan and the non-plan side subject to the condition that the balance from the current revenue continues to remain positive. I am happy also to inform the House that the Government of India has also conveyed its approval for enhancing the existing powers to the Lt. Governor Delhi, for sanctioning of Plans Schemes, from Rs. 20 Crores to Rs. 50 Crores.
The Annual Plan for 1997-98 and the 9th Five Year Plan is yet to be finalised, and discussions in this regard are scheduled for the 3rd week of January, 1997. Before this the National Development Council is also expected to meet to consider the Draft 9th Five Year Plan.
I have in this address basically highlighted the achievements of my Government during the year 1996. During the next few days this House will be meeting and discussing various issues. I am sure the Government will benefit greatly from your discussions.
May I conclude by wishing you all success in your deliberations and may 1997 witness remarkable advance in the time-bound execution of projects, a high degree of accountability of all elements in Delhi Administration and the evolution of a positive, service–oriented work culture, with all round peace and progress for all citizens of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.