The Third Delhi Legislative Assembly

(Budget Session)

15th MARCH, 2005

            Respected Speaker and Hon’ble Members,

  I extend a warm welcome to all of you to the Budget Session of the Legislative Assembly of Delhi for the year 2005.
  I would first like to express my sorrow and grief at the loss of life and destruction of property in the recent Tsunami disaster that struck Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu. May I offer my Government’s as well as my personal, condolences to the families affected by this natural disaster. We have already sent supplies of relief material to the affected region and shall continue to do so whenever required of us. Some of our officers have also gone to A & N islands to assist the Administration there in its reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts. The people of Delhi have also spontaneously responded to the tragedy by donating money and material aid to the Tsunami Relief Fund. My government would like to thank all those who were involved in providing aid and relief to the affected people. I would like to assure our brothers and sisters whose lives have been shattered by this tragedy that we are with them in their hour of crisis and shall continue to provide whatever assistance they might need from us.
  In my first address delivered in July last year, I had shared with you my government’s programmes and policies that would make Delhi a modern global city. This vision of building a world-class city by adopting good governance practices in partnership with people continues to be an article of unshakable faith with my government as well as its main guiding principle for the coming years. I am happy to inform the Hon’ble Members that my government over the last several years has not only provided good governance, based on the principles of transparency, accountability, responsiveness and sensitivity, but has also managed to forge symbiotic ties with people in finding solutions to some of the pressing problems that confront this city.
  One of the instruments for forging such ties with the people has been through the medium of ‘Bhagidari’: the Citizen-Government Partnership. It has enabled my government to feel the pulse of the people; to initiate consultative processes with citizen groups before embarking on major policy initiatives; to share with them the concern about environmental issues; to get feedback about the working of departments and fulfillment of promises made by my government. We propose to further strengthen this participatory system in the coming years by bringing citizens to the centrality of the planning and budgetary processes and by expanding the spatial spread of the programme to involve people living in slums and JJ clusters. An equally significant instrument has been the Government’s Right to Information Act, which is being proactively used by citizen groups and NGOs to seek information as a matter of statutory right. As government functioning has become subjected to greater public scrutiny, the pressure on us to deliver, and deliver well, has mounted. We are determined that this challenge will and must elicit a positive response from us. We have also decided to carry out a social audit of various public services to report on the degree of satisfaction of the users. This feedback would enable us to further improve on the quality of service delivery of important sectors.
  This transparency and openness has also been facilitated by our technological window i.e. our endeavors in e-governance. The Government’s website has won two bronze icons [citizen-centric website category and the Tender Notice Information System] in the 7th National E-Governance Conference, 2004, I am also proud to inform the Hon’ble Members that the Education Department was recently awarded the Golden Icon Award in the National Conference of E-Governance, 2005 for the pioneering use of information technology in education. These successes have prompted us to use this media for dealing with public grievances and also for improving our service delivery mechanisms. We are hopeful that in the immediate future we should be able to transact business with citizens online and receive payments from them electronically. The computerisation of the record of rights of agricultural land and also of the sub-Registrar’s offices is nearing completion. I am sure that all these measures would lead to reduction in transaction costs in dealing with government departments. All these steps would undoubtedly go a long way in reducing scope for corruption. Besides the government is also planning to introduce access control mechanism including CCTV to check entry of unauthorised persons in government departments. Surveillance by anti-corruption staff would also be further strengthened to monitor the working of departments at the cutting edge level.
  In partnership with our stakeholders my Government is geared to take further the infrastructural reforms of the last few years and to translate the growth and development of Delhi into an improved quality of life for the people of Delhi. In addition to the troika of power, water and transport sectors, the priorities of my Government clearly lie in effectively managing the sectors of health, education and social welfare for the common citizen and especially the marginalized section of our society: the poor; the aged; the women; the children; the underprivileged; and the differently abled. Housing for the poor, multi-purpose cooperative society for slum dwellers, issues of unauthorised colonies, rejuvenation of rural Delhi, upscaling of our industrial estates and sensitively relocating polluting industries remain our concerns. These issues get intrinsically linked on the one hand with our consistent demand for a more dynamic role for the NCR, which would ease some of the pressures on infrastructure services from immigration. On the other hand, these are also linked to the problem of multiplicity of policy making authorities and implementing agencies with overlapping functions, which, my Government feels, can be addressed by grant of statehood and functional restructuring of local bodies.
  My Government is committed to providing safe potable drinking water to all the residents of Delhi in an equitable and efficient manner. To achieve this objective, we are trying to augment water supply availability through increasing the treatment capacity by 140 MGD. The plant at Sonia Vihar is ready for commissioning and we are now awaiting release of water from the Tehri Dam Storage by the Governments of Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal, so that we can provide relief to the residents of East and South Delhi. Apart from this, we are embarking upon a Distribution reform project for systematically improving our distribution network in a phased manner, through leakage control and metering. This project, which aims to convert the intermittent supply system to a continuous supply regime, is expected to commence by December 2005 in two zones of South Delhi. State of the art leakage control technology would be used to detect and plug leakages in the rising mains, to ensure good water availability in the ensuing summer season. We are committed to see that basic services to people living in poor settlements become more efficient and reliable.
  Power reforms have begun to show results. The Delhi Transco Limited is now able to pay the full cost of power purchased by it from central power generating stations and other sources. The Distribution Companies have been able to reduce Aggregate Technical and Commercial [AT & C] loss. My government will continue to emphasise on further improvement in this direction so that the public gets benefited by a more efficient system. The load shedding as a percentage of energy supplied has shown a significant decrease. As a result of the financial restructuring envisaged in reforms, the budgetary support to the Power sector has considerably decreased and these savings can now gainfully be utilized for other important infrastructure and social sectors. The peak power demand in Delhi during the summer is expected to touch around 3600 MW. We are tying up with neighboring states and other surplus states in eastern region to meet peaking demand during ensuing summer. The positive climate created by power reforms in Delhi has encouraged us to focus on proposals for setting up power generation plants in Delhi so that dependence of Delhi on outside sources gets reduced to that extent. My government is also considering feasibility of converting IP Power Station from a coal based thermal power plant to gas based TPP. If the project is found feasible, the entire IP Station would be converted to gas-based power plant before the Commonwealth Games begin in 2010.
  My Government has placed public transport and well designed infrastructure among its most crucial objectives. The Commonwealth Games 2010 is both an opportunity and a challenge to put in place infrastructure and facilities for an urban renewal that match the best of commuter friendly designs globally. Delhi is virtually a crossroads of highways catering to a very high volume of interstate freight and automobile traffic that pass through. My Government has agreed to meet a large part of finance needed for the construction of the Eastern and Western Expressways that will help this very large volume of through traffic to bypass Delhi and help mitigate congestion. We have identified seven traffic corridors running into 130 kilometers for introduction of high capacity surface mass transit. The construction of flyovers, bridges and bypasses is in full swing. We are working towards the integration of the different modes of mass transit, both rail-based and road-based, such that they lead to positive synergy in the shape of enhanced convenience to commuters, reduction in motorised traffic and improvements in the atmospheric and audible environment. To achieve this, we are introducing modern urban buses to encourage people to substitute individual modes of transport with group travel. Further, phase I of the Delhi Metro Project with a line length of over fifty kilometers will be completed this year and Phase-II of the Metro Project is on track. Apart from these, an aesthetically designed urbanscape with appropriate street furniture and signages that cater both to utility and ambience is being planned. I am happy to inform the Hon’ble Members that three branches of the Transport Department Accounts branch at Headquarters and New Delhi and South Delhi Zonal Offices have been awarded ISO 9001-2000 certification.
  In the education sector the professed goal of this government has been quality education and upscaling school infrastructure. School results in secondary and senior secondary CBSE examination have improved. Completion of new school buildings, classrooms and porta-cabins is being expedited. Setting up of Vidyalaya Kalyan Samitis under the Bhagidari initiative in all Government schools has improved the day-to-day maintenance of the schools and has had a salutary effect on academics as well. 22 Sarvodaya Vidyalayas and three Pratibha Vidyalayas have been opened this year. Computer education has been introduced in all the Government schools and students studying in Class XI of Pratibha Vikas Vidyalayas were allowed access to the Internet. My Government has decided to provide individual computers to all senior secondary classes in the Pratibha Vikas Vidyalayas. A method to continuously monitor the performance of students, teachers, and schools would be put in place from the coming academic year. In the field of higher education, students who have passed out from the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University have been able to find lucrative placements. A new campus for the University is coming up in East and SouthWest Delhi. An ITI, exclusively for women, has been planned. New courses of optical fiber communications and biotechnology have been started in our Engineering colleges. On the sports front, the Education department is working out a comprehensive sports policy. In a similar vein, a Tourism Policy for Delhi Vision 2021 is on the anvil.
  My government would expand the scope and quality of health care for people of Delhi. More than 500 beds have been added in this year and about 1700 beds would be added in the coming year. Diagnosis and treatment of one of the most dreaded of diseases of our times, cancer, would be done in the state-of –the-art Oncology Center at GTB Hospital that is currently providing only OPD and chemotherapy facilities. The Institute of Liver and Billiary Sciences is also likely to start functioning during the next financial year. Work is likely to commence on the construction of the multispeciality Hospital at Dwarka. We also plan to commission the trauma center at DDU Hospital, the super specialty Hospital at Janakpuri, the hospital at Shastri Park and the maternity block at A & U Tibbia College and Arrhythmia Center, GB Pant Hospital during the coming year. In addition to the existing dispensaries, a network of 78 mobile dispensaries is looking after the residents of JJ clusters and resettlement colonies. This Government has been extremely concerned about the eradication of Polio and has held a number of Pulse Polio rounds as a result of which Polio is nearing eradication in Delhi. In 2004 only two cases of migrant children with Polio were reported. Delhi is the first state in the country to have included the Typhoid vaccine and the second state in the country to have included the Hepatitis-B vaccine in the routine immunization for all children in the age group of 0-5 years.
  In the past few years the efforts of my Government have led to the streamlining and augmentation of the social security system through various programmes of financial assistance, vocational training and soft loans for specific entrepreneurial activities. We have accelerated the pace of the various schemes for the educational, social and economic development of the SC/ST/OBC and minority communities. In addition to the ongoing assistance provided to the weaker sections through targeted programmes, our thrust is on accelerating the completion of old age homes, recreation centres for senior citizens, hostels for working women, and augmenting facilities for the differently abled. The Gender Resource Centres [Stree Kosh] set up under the Stree Shakti initiative are being further strengthened as single-window facilitation centres for women with special attention to convergence of delivery systems. The increasing number of women benefiting from consultation on matters of health, legal rights, and skill development in the monthly Stree Shakti camps has underlined the relevance of our direct outreach programmes to the marginalised.
  To give a fillip to the development of rural areas in Delhi my Government has reconstituted the Rural Development Board, which has already recommended several important projects for rural Delhi. This Board will ensure an integrated approach to rural issues and also coordinate the work undertaken by multiple agencies. My government is also working on a proposal to revive industrial estates with the provision of funds to improve infrastructure in these estates. The Bawana industrial estate has now been fully developed with the majority of the plots/flats having been allotted to the applicants. My government proposes to set up specialized industrial parks [Gems and Jewellery, IT, Bio-Tech], which would provide employment opportunities to the youth. There is also a proposal to set up an export-processing zone in Delhi. On the issue of relocation of industries, while complying with court orders, my Government is also taking steps to minimise the dislocation of industries.
  It would not be an exaggeration to claim that Delhi’s record in protecting its environment is second to none. The marked improvement in the quality of air in Delhi during the last few years is now too well documented to bear repetition. While Delhi is proud to be a city with the largest number of vehicles on CNG, my Government is now committed to a second generation of reforms. A joint intiative of the Delhi Government with the Union Ministry of Environment has been taken up for cleaning the River Yamuna under the Yamuna Action Plan Phase-II. It has been due to the tireless efforts of the Delhi Government that we have now been able to persuade one of our neighboring states to set up a combined TSDF facility for hazardous waste. Initiatives like free distribution of saplings have yielded results by which the green cover of Delhi has gone up substantially, especially with the help of school children and citizen groups. Our eco-clubs in Delhi’s schools and colleges are inculcating in the youth awareness about the necessity of keeping Delhi green and clean for their own survival. My Government is committed to help finance citizen groups and schools to take up environment friendly projects in their colonies and schools. We have further resolved to declare all our government Schools as no-plastic zones. To make the children aware of the diverse flora and fauna of Delhi, a conservation educational centre has been opened in the Asola Wildlife Sanctuary in collaboration with the Bombay Natural History Museum.
  Revenue collections have been buoyant this year, exceeding the budgetary targets. This economic buoyancy has helped Delhi retain its position as one of the premier centres of growth and prosperity in the country. In line with the recommendations of the Empowered Committee of States’ Finance Ministers set up by the Government of India, my government proposes to introduce the Value Added Tax regime from April 1, 2005. The change over to the new system would be a major exercise requiring significant changes in procedures. This would lead to a greater transparency and reform of the tax system. My Government has already taken a decision to facilitate a hassle free transition into VAT system and has adopted a large number of recommendations made by the trade and industry.
  The recent Budget of the Government of India seeks to promote Urban renewal. Delhi figures amongst the cities identified for resource allocation under this scheme. My Government would project Delhi’s requirement for an urban renewal programme aimed at ameliorating living conditions and provision of basic services to the urban poor especially those living in unauthorised colonies and slum clusters. A slum improvement programme [including in-situ upgradation], access to civic services and issues of public health would be addressed. This year my Government is considering extension of sanitation services to those unauthorised colonies where roads and drains have been provided by the Government. It is also considering grant of permission for one additional road along with drain in such colonies. The maintenance of roads and drains has to be done by the local bodies. Development of new sanitary landfill sites and the mechanization of conservancy and sanitation services is also a priority area.
  We all have dreams for a beautiful Delhi that would reflect its glorious past, vibrant present and dynamic future. As I mentioned to you in my last address, it is not the infrastructure that determines the class or the quality of any city; the people who inhabit it determine its class. How we maintain and improve the quality of air; the quality of water flowing through the river; the parks; the public places and the new Metro would ultimately determine whether we have succeeded in making Delhi a world-class city. Each one has therefore an essential duty of making this city a global city and I hope that none of us would be found wanting in discharge of that duty. I have broadly outlined the important policies and programmes of my government. I have also included new thrust areas identified for implementation. The Finance Minister will spell out the details in his Budget speech. I am sure that with the help and cooperation of the members of this august House we shall overcome challenges and transform Delhi into a modern, progressive and global city.
  I wish you all success in your deliberations and hope that they would be productive and help in generating new ideas for realizing our dream of turning Delhi into a world-class city.