The Second Delhi Legislative Assembly

(Budget Session)

21st MARCH, 2001

           Mr. Speaker Sir, Hon’ble Members,

  It is with great pleasure that I extend a warm welcome to all of you to the Budget Session of the Second Legislative Assembly of Delhi for the year 2001. At the very outset I would like to express the deep anguish and concern that this House feels for the victims of the earthquake that ravaged Gujarat. The nation as one responded to this calamity. Our city and its citizens too rose up to the occasion and came forward to assist the extensive relief measures. I am grateful to the people of Delhi, including all of you, for their contributions. From these contributions our government is going to reconstruct over 300 households in a village called Jawahar Nagar right at the Pakistan border in Gujarat, in the pattern of our measures in Orissa in the wake of the cyclone. Let us hope that the area and its people will soon be restored to their original prosperity.
  As I stand here today, I am aware of the mixed feelings among the people of Delhi: their aspirations and disappointments; a feeling of having so much and yet accessing much less. My government has worked the past year to narrow down this gap so that we have a strong platform for future growth and development, where only aspirations reign. The year 2001 heralds in the new millennium and with it the new challenges. Today, we are at a crucial cross-roads from where we can see the impact of our forty years of planned development and with hindsight strategically plan not only for the year ahead but also undertake long-term perspective planning. With experience we can say that strong trends are crystallizing that reflect the changing moods of citizens demanding greater say in governance. Today an average citizen expects more transparency in government business and management of state resources. He wants faster, quicker and efficient delivery of services. His aspirations and expectations from the government have upsurged specially since he now has the access to and knowledge of new international developments in the information and technological fields via new modes of communication. He now questions the extent and adequacy of his interface/intervention in the governmental process.
  At the same time he finds that the city to which he belongs is waging an ongoing battle against the onslaught of uncontrolled population growth by way of in-migration. The basic infrastructure services of water, electricity, roads etc. are becoming increasingly stretched. We all know that Delhi is a city of prosperity and opportunity. Consequently it is also a city that draws many people to it. Its population, growing continuously, records one of the highest rates of growth in the nation. The anticipated population today is 14.0 million. It is expected to touch 22 million by 2021. to meet and sustain this growing population is the challenge. To do so, a clear vision and bold initiative and actions are called for. Our vision has to be built around a well-managed, clean and dynamic city serving its citizens, the nation and the world. Delhi has to embark on a hard and difficult journey to fulfill this vision that must be achieved during the lifetime of the present generation for the benefit of its own and the next. It implies that Delhi governance has to set off on a journey of change. This journey began two years ago with my government. Sincere attempts in the face of many challenges have been made to effect lasting and dynamic changes both in the infrastructure and social sectors.
  Our planning has always had at heart our citizens and our city. The two concerns are inexorably inter-twined. It has been our earnest endeavor to build an orderly and disciplined national capital – a capital which is economically robust, an engine of growth, a capital which treats the rich and poor alike and which handles the weak, destitute and under-privileged citizens with compassion and justice. In the same vein, it is our belief that successful and meaningful governance cannot be achieved without the involvement and role of the citizens. Our aim has been to effectively and efficiently respond to the city’s Problems by working in close partnership with civil society. It was this conviction that was the genesis of ‘Bhagidari’ – the Citizen-Government partnership and the ‘My Delhi - I care’ drive. ‘Bhagidari’ has been our pioneering effort to forge the citizen-government partnership and to actively involve the people in day-to-day governance. It has been an attempt to re-institutionalise the focal energy of the government towards the people.
  These concerns and my government’s Commitment to provide good governance had shaped our guiding principles – citizen participation in governance, use of modern technology and overhauling of working procedures and culture. With some satisfaction I can recall the gains we have made in anchoring these principles in our daily administration. Our collective approach helped us to focus on the vital issues concerning our city and the well being of our citizens. With the citizen groups, four crucial partnerships have so far emerged under the Bhagidari umbrella, namely with the Resident Welfare Associations; the Market and Trader Association, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and its Alumni Association; and the NGOs and the Corporate sector. Our major departments i.e. DJB, DBV, MCD and Environment have identified important areas of interaction and intervention with the RWAs. Our endeavour of empowering these citizen groups in everyday civic tasks of water bill collection and payment, bulk billing, complaints of electricity breakdown, environmental activities etc. has given us good success stories. We have now included the Delhi Police and DDA as our new partners. The popularity of our Bhagidari endeavour is borne by the fact that more and more RWAs and citizen groups are demanding to be made ‘Bhagidars’ with the government. In view of this, and in an attempt to make the process more widespread and pervasive we have taken a decision to take the scheme to the districts and to involve the local district authorities.
  We have attempted to change our work culture by actively advocating administrative de-centralisation. IN a move towards devolution of power, the District Development Committees were set up involving elected representatives of the area. Our aim is to decentralize decision-making in matters concerning public utilities and basic civic amenities and to ensure a responsive administration at the district level. In a significant move ‘Public Grievance Redressal Committees’ were constituted under the chairmanship of the nine revenue Deputy Commissioners in each district. The districts have reported effective redressal of issues related to augmentation of water supply, fixing of street lights, repair of roads, retrieving of encroached Gaon Sabha land, etc. A ‘Public Grievance Redressal Cell’ is functioning at the Chief Minister’s Office and 31 Nodal Officers have been appointed in major public dealing departments. In a move to ensure a transparent and citizen-friendly government Citizen Charters for the major departments have been drawn up. An Administrative Reforms Committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary has been looking into various work procedures and has been suggesting changes and reengineering processes. The over-riding concern of this government has been to eliminate corruption. An action plan stressing on zero tolerance on corruption has been drawn out in this regard for implementation which will be very closely watched and monitored.
  In the last two years we have made great strides in ensuring the use of modern technology in day-to-day governance. Our vision is to make the capital a ‘Cyber-City’ by the year 2003. As our commitment to this goal we have formulated the first Information Technology Policy of Delhi which was announced in August 2000. Our government expects the private sector to play a pivotal role with the government actively assisting in promoting IT for the masses, ushering E-Governance and creating an atmosphere conducive for the growth of IT industry and IT infrastructure. To oversee the implementation of the policy an Advisory Council with eminent personalities in the field of IT and education has been constituted. It is equally important that we computerise our government departments. We have made a beginning in this direction by the computerization of nine priority departments which are expected to go ‘on-line’ by 2002. Today all forms can be downloaded from the Delhi Government website. By this year end the offices of the Deputy Commissioners and all major departments located outside the secretariat complex will be networked. The Govt. of Delhi in collaboration with National Informatics Centre has initiated steps to digitize the location maps of important utilities such as power lines, water lines, sewage lines, telephone lines and road alignment of routes. In a significant move to bridge the digital divide, a pilot scheme to spread basic and computer literacy with minimum invasive pedagogy was implemented for the first time in the world in a resettlement colony of Delhi.
  The year gone by was characterized by significant initiatives and developments in a number of vital sectors. My government is of the firm view that the difficulties faced in the infrastructure sectors concerning management of power supply, water supply and roads need to be tackled on a priority basis. The issues emerging in the other sectors such as industry, transport, urban development and environment are no less important. It is our firm belief that service infrastructure is the key to a healthy city and to an improved quality of life. It was our concern with the infrastructure improvement of the city that made us undertake the pioneering study – Delhi 2021. This long term perspective planning exercise outlines the concerns of a fast and ever growing Delhi and delineates our institutional and policy reforms, and investment projects for leading Delhi from its present situation to a more environmental friendly and better governed city in the next 20 years. It gives our detailed assessment in respect of Industrial Area Upgradation, Water Supply and Use of Waste-Water, Solid Waste Management, Environment, Transport, Industrial Area Upgradation, Slum Upgradation etc. It has also pointed out our major policy gaps, housing policy being one of them. We still need to make a breakthrough in this area, specially housing for the lower and lower middle class and government servants. One of the stumbling blocks, is that ‘land’ as a subject is not with this government. We hope that when government formulates the Delhi Master Plan it will take cognizance of these ground realities.
Our crowning achievements this year have been in reforming the power sector, achieving an unprecedented buoyancy in state revenues, ensuring fiscal discipline and undertaking an in-depth review of the institutional and policy framework presently in place for governing Delhi. We were able to pass the ‘Delhi Electricity Reform Bill,2000’ in the Assembly with the wholehearted support of the citizens and the workers of the DVB. Today, Delhi is on the path of privatization, which is being keenly watched by the whole world. On the financial front, for the first time, the Plan allocation at the stage of B.E. and R.E. remained the same. An increase by 35% in the tax revenue receipts of the state this year speaks for the buoyancy of the state economy. Strict fiscal discipline resulted in appreciable reduction in the Non-plan expenditure. For the first time we were able to come out with the visionary document-Delhi 2021 which identifies the investments required to improve the urban environment and habitat, entailing Delhi to become a world class city. In the above perspective, we have also reviewed the structure and functioning of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi which historically was created under unique circumstances and combined the roles of a local body with some of those of a metropolitan government. Important recommendations have been made by the review committee regarding the bifurcation of the civic body into smaller and administratively more viable municipalities and municipal councils, and the financial viability of the proposed municipalities, their functions and responsibilities. These recommendations are being examined by my government.
Coming to the specifics, as you may remember, my government’s legacy in the power sector was high transmission and distribution losses, bankrupt finances, weak distribution network and poor redress of consumer grievances. Today many corrective measures have reached impressive stages of success. The work on the 330 megawatts Pragati Power Project has commenced and it is likely to be completed by 2002. The government is also negotiating Power Purchase Agreements with various parties for augmenting power generation in Delhi. The 400 KVA Bawana-Bamnauli ring line has been completed and 400 KV sub-station at Bamnauli was commissioned. 309 sub stations have been commissioned in the last year. Nearly one lakh of new meters have been installed. Fully computerized consumer facilitation centers are being established. The gross revenue receipts have showed an increase while the gross operational deficits have drastically come down. For the first time ‘Single Delivery Point’ connections were introduced in unauthorized colonies, JJ Bastis and Co-operative Group Housing Societies.
While these measures are pioneering in their nature and impact, my government is aware that for greater improvement in the power sector, to meet both the present and future demand, there is need for heavy investment and better management of the system. To meet the escalating demand for power, my government has undertaken both short and long term measures. The Government has initiated action to buy power from Himachal Pradesh and the Eastern grid to make up the shortfall in supply by the Northern grid. As I mentioned earlier, we have embarked upon privatizing the power sector and our Delhi Electricity Reform Act 2000 is in position and so is the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission. The Independent autonomous functioning of the DERC is a sine qua non for private participation in the power sector. At this juncture I would like to assure that the government will provide all support and assistance to the DERC and will strongly support the privatization of the power sector.
All attempts have been made by my government to ease out the transport system for the convenience of the commuters. This is one sector in which we have been constantly pushing for major reforms and modernization. There has been a steady and continuous progress in the MRTS construction. It is our road transport system that has come in for serious and severe changes owing to the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Its directions that the bus-transport system should be only CNG based is causing severe strain on the system. But my government has initiated steps to face the situation boldly and courageously. Orders have been placed with the suppliers of bus chassis and body builders. Unfortunately the inability of the manufacturers to supply chassis and the availability of the CNG gas have been the restraining factors. Currently there are 359 CNG buses of which 160 are of the DTC. There will be only 1500 CNG buses under government operation by October 2001. The private sector, which has been playing a major role in providing bus transport facility, has been lagging behind in procuring CNG buses. Recently the government has provided incentives to encourage private operators to go in for CNG buses. Our earlier attempts to attract private parties through global tenders have not been successful. However, now we have invited interested parties to participate in operating local buses on a well thought out zonal based plan. My government is eagerly awaiting the response. In the meanwhile, it is worth noting that the response from taxi drivers and auto-rickshaws has been very encouraging. Around 11,000 auto-rickshaws and 800 taxis are running on CNG fuel.
We all know that for an efficient transport system we need good roads to ensure smooth flow of traffic. PWD has embarked upon improving its roads, mainly the Ring Road. It has also worked to provide a greater number of flyovers and sub-ways. Four flyovers have been completed in this year and 16 are in progress. We shall be very soon be taking up construction of 30 flyovers in the second phase. And yet my government is aware that these measures have still to ease out commuter travails. Delhi has to have a better transport system to ensure safe, economic and efficient movement of all categories of passengers and goods. It needs an integrated multi model transportation system. The Government will initiate action to strengthen the institutional capacity and provide transportation corridors as also network related interventions. It will also provide for regulatory measures for optimum public, private participation with integrated operations. A Tariff Regulatory Commission will be in position soon.
One of the major successes in the water sector is that, fortunately, we have been able to provide potable water to our citizens to their greater satisfaction. On the front of augmenting the physical availability of water, the following measures have been taken. The 40 MGD water treatment plant at Nangloi was commissioned in May,2000. The construction of 20 MGD water treatment plant at Bawana has commenced and work for 140 MGD water treatment plant at Sonia Vihar has commenced. The government has initiated water conservation methods and for the first time rain-water harvesting has been taken up in a substantial manner. We have to look at this sector with serious concern for drinking water is going to be in short supply and unless drastic measures are initiated, it would be difficult to meet the future demands. The government is seriously thinking of encouraging private sector participation both in providing and managing drinking water and sewerage networks. The future of Delhi lies in managing these three sectors – power, water and transport more efficiently with huge investments. We have to encourage greater participation of the private sectors in these areas and my government will re-adjust and provide necessary institutional mechanisms towards achieving this.
On the industrial front, this government was faced with the challenge of relocating industrial units. We have all along stressed that while we are committed to addressing the substantive issue of environmental concerns, this has to be reconciled with the equally vital need of ensuring a livelihood, especially for those involved in the household units and small trade. The 4000 odd units closed down by us have been of the most polluting nature. We have made our utmost efforts to expedite the re-location of industrial units currently operating from residential/non conforming areas though for purposes of land allotment we have to continuously knock at the doors of the Union Government. My government has undertaken the development of an Industrial Park in around 1800 acres of land at Bawana, 70 acres of land at Narela, 10 acres at Badli, 10 acres at Jhilmil and 5 acres at Patparganj. Out of these about 15,000 plots have been allotted at Bawana and 1200 plots have been allotted in the other pockets. 16,086 industrial plots have been allotted to eligible units who had expressed desire to re-locate their units from residential/non conforming areas to the confirming use zones. As such DDA has been requested to develop an additional area of 2500 acres to develop industrial plots required for re-location of units. My government has continuously advocated the case for in-situ regularization of industrial estates functioning from non-conforming areas where the industry concentration ranges between 70-100%. My government has proposed to the Ministry of Urban Development to amend the Master Plan for this purpose. As this is the most practical, cost effective and humane approach, my government stands committed to it.
Linked with the above have been our environmental concerns regarding the disposal of industrial effluents. Discharging of untreated industrial effluent into a conveyance system that has an outfall into river Yamuna has also attracted the attention of the Apex Court. It is believed that once Common Effluent Treatment Plants are constructed pollution of water in river Yamuna will drop significantly. My government has taken in its hands an ambitious project of constructing 15 such plants at an estimated cost of 214.8 crores. The Hon’ble Members will be happy to know that work on three of them is likely to be completed by June,2001. Work has been awarded in respect of 10 plants and the work for remaining CETPs will be awarded soon. The delay in construction of CETP took place because the beneficiary industrial units were not giving their share of cost required for construction of such plants. To overcome this difficulty ’Delhi CETP Act, 2000’ has been enforced. This Act empowers the recovery of default amount as arrears of land revenue. We have had other significant achievements on the environmental front. There has been a distrinct improvement recorded in the ambient quality in the city in terms of suspended particulate matter (SPM), Sulphur Oxides and Nitrogen Oxides. Delhi is beginning to turn into a salubrious, green and less polluted city. The forest cover has increased by 38 sq.kms. There is a proposal to develop 10 more city-forests as Carbon Sinks. In addition 2100 acres of Bhatti Mines are being developed as Kargil Martyrs Forest. However, on this front one of our major concern remains the disposal of garbage. We need to get in modern systems of garbage management, not only from the point of providing better civic services but also from the environmental perspective.
Our emphasis on the improvement of infrastructure is matched by our commitment to providing facilities and opportunities in the social sector, particularly to that large section of people who are still seeking the basic minimum. The year gone by has thrown up important issues affecting the lives and living conditions of this sector, particularly the occupation of land by those living in appalling conditions in the slums and the question of providing decent living standards in the Jhugggi-jhompari clusters. In May 2000 my government has revised its policy guidelines in regard to the scheme for re-location of dwellers in JJ colonies. For the improvement of the urban poor, my government has initiated a scheme for protecting vulnerable children and their development through management of diarrhoea, periodic health check-up, improvement in nutrition, better hygiene and sanitation. At present 175 creches and School Centers are functioning in JJ clusters. My government has a scheme to cover 72 JJ clusters (8 in each district) for the purposes of creating community structures. 7200 beneficiaries will be assisted in the Urban Self-employment Programme with the active involvement of bankers. The Members would be happy to know that 1800 (200 per district) beneficiaries are proposed to be trained in different trade courses provided by IITs and polytechnics. The government also has a proposal to create 45 groups (5 in each district) that will look after the development of women and children in urban areas. An equal number of thrift and credit societies are proposed to be created for the purposes of increasing savings.
Welfare measures reaching out to specific sections of the society are being accorded equal importance. All schemes of old age pensions, assistance to widows and the physically handicapped have been expanded to cover a large number of beneficiaries. The construction of school for the hearing impaired has commenced at Rohini. The consolidation of government – NGO initiatives in the running of observation homes for children, boys and women is taking place. A large number of scholarships have been provided to SC/ST students. The SC/ST financial corporation is being streamlined to provide greater assistance. There has been a considerable expansion in the computerization programme in employment exchanges which permits extensive networking. Once networking has been done unemployed youth can avail multiple services from single window. Similarly a Task Force has been constituted for beggars.
Education is a priority sector for us. The notable achievement in this sector has been in providing facilities for computer education in 115 schools, with private participation. It is expected that nearly 250 schools will be provided this facility this year. The overall results in the Board examination have shown improvement. Our effort is to consolidate these gains. One of the major bottlenecks is non-availability of land for construction of schools in needy areas. The government is making all efforts to impress upon DDA to allot land in these places without any further delay. In the absence of adequate land the government is not able to utilize its budgeted allocation and plan provision in providing infra-structural facilities and schools. Nevertheless, the Directorate for Education has, for the first time, introduced non-formal vocational programmes in 16 centres to provide skills to neo-literates, schools dropouts and partially employed youth. Providing continuing education to the neo-literates will also be in focus. Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University would consolidate its efforts in ensuring that the affiliated institutions provide quality education instead of going in for new institutions.
In the health sector I am happy to note that this year there was no out-break of any major epidemic. My government has been following the basic guidelines set out two years ago – of removing regional disparities in the availability of health infrastructure. Towards this end, 450 additional bed facilities have been added. Round-the-clock emergency services are available in Aruna Asaf Ali & Guru Gobind Singh Hospitals. We will shortly make available round the clock emergency facilities in B. R. Ambedkar, and Maharishi Valmiki hospitals. The government has taken over three hospitals from MCD. A new OPD block for Indian system of medicines opened at Tibia College. A 50 bedded facility for treatment of patients in homeopathy system of medicine has been created in the B.R. Sur Medical College/hospital. A new 120 bedded critical care block at G. B. Pant hospital has been commissioned. Construction of seven new hospital buildings has commenced. Action has been initiated for efficient disposal of bio-medical waste, participation of NGO’s and voluntary organizations in the health sector is being encouraged.
Our rural areas are constantly getting the attention of the government. The government has announced a Rural Development Board that would start functioning from this year onwards. The Mini Master Plan is under review and corrective measures will be taken to make some of the rural areas under this plan to be more vibrant and economically productive.
This year is being celebrated as the Year of Women’s Empowerment,2001. My government has always endeavored to accord her rightful place in the mainstream development and to create large-scale awareness of her rights. My government is conscious of the need for working on empowerment programmes – economic, social and political. This is linked with the focus on providing a safe and secure habitat for women in a modern city like Delhi where they can access equal opportunities and facilities. Our approach will be two pronged; to provide security with necessary legal backing and provide facilities for them to continue their vocation in a congenial atmosphere. We have recently appointed a State level Committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister which will work out detailed programmes on the above lines. The Delhi Commission for Women has also been taking steps to address these issues. It has set up rape intervention centers in three districts, in cooperation with NGO’s and police to provide counseling, legal and rehabilitation aids. These centers will be set up in six other districts. Family counseling unit under ‘Sahayogini’ has been activated to attend cases of domestic violence, matrimonial discord and maintenance. For women in distress who need urgent assistance, a helpline has been established. The government has decided to set up additional thirteen working women hostels and two hostels for girl students; one each near the South and North Campus. The DDA has been asked to allot land for these hostels at the earliest.
As I said earlier in my address, to fulfill our vision of a city of world standard, with a planned urban development for controlled growth, reduced service deficiencies, urban poverty alleviation, a developed community awareness and trust in government, very strong strategic actions including restructuring the institutional arrangements, better management of all resources and efficient delivery of services are required. And this is possible only if we all, government and the citizens work together as common stakeholders, as ‘Bhagidars’ in the development and prosperity of the city that we love. Only we can together contribute to help the city retain its place as an engine of growth, as a leading investment center and as a catalyst of socio-economic transformation. I am sure that this year will be eventful in achieving the objectives we have set for ourselves.
I wish the deliberation in the house and your concerted efforts all success.