The Second Delhi Legislative Assembly

(Budget Session)

22nd MARCH, 1999

           Mr. Speaker Sir, Hon’ble Members,

  I have great pleasure in welcoming you to the first Budget Session of the new Legislative Assembly of Delhi.
  We are on the threshold of a new millennium, at a unique point in history. From the vantage position of today, we can look back, reflect and learn about what is possible. Armed with that knowledge, we can dream for our future. Such an opportunity comes but rarely in history and my Government is determined to seize it. It will use it to work towards evolution of an entirely new perspective on Governance. The defining characteristics of this new perspective will be dynamic, cost conscious and transparent governance. The three pillars on which it will rest are : Community participation in governance, use of modern technology and overhauling of work procedures & culture. My Government has already started to give shape to this vision.
  The governance at the local level very often has a tendency to become bureaucracy-centered. It tends to get distanced from the felt needs of the people and tends to completely isolate the people from the implementation process. My Government has resolved to place the people at the center of the entire administrative process. This shall be achieved through an empowerment mechanism that will enable them to be part of the implementation process. My Government believes that this empowerment will also serve to further strengthen the effectiveness of the representatives elected by the people.
  My Government is fully committed to use Information Technology to improve the quality of the citizen –Government interface. The web-site of the Government is being fully re-designed to make it an effective instrument of interface with the people. Simultaneously, the process of computerization of the various offices of the administration and their networking is being completed. The next phase will involve a move towards elimination of paper work in select offices.
  To bring about a restructuring of the work procedures and culture, my Government will scrutinize procedures specially those relating to interface with the people. It will undertake major administrative reforms and restructuring. To bring about a change in work culture regular orientation courses shall be organized for ministers and for officers at all levels. The first one is scheduled to be held in the month of April.
  The present Government assumed office in the background of rising prices of commodities of common use. The Government moved swiftly and effectively through a variety of measures to arrest this rise and to bring them down. These measures included raids against hoarders & speculators and constant monitoring of price levels at both the retail and the wholesale levels. More than anything else, it was the uncompromising and tough stand taken by my Government that sent clear signals to all and sundry about its commitment and determination to deal with rising prices.
  The second major problem that my Government inherited when it assumed office was a power system which was grossly inadequate for the city’s requirements. The citizens of the city were subjected to power shortages that they had never experienced before. Government addressed the issue straightway. It set up a committee under the Minister of Power which brought out a strategy paper on the power sector. The paper reflects the thinking and approach of my Government towards this sector. It outlines both the long term and the short-term action plans. The Government is presently engaged in the implementation of these plans with a single mindedness that has rarely been seen before. In the short period since the assumption of office, the Government has conducted a series of raids and has unfolded a number of innovative schemes to address the problem of theft of power which is perhaps the single most debilitating factor in this sector and which had been allowed to assume menacing proportions by the previous administration. As part of the long term plan, the Government has already initiated the process of the formation of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission. A comprehensive Bill to reform and restructure the Power sector in Delhi is being introduced very shortly. While my Government will continue to pay its full attention to the emerging scenario in the power sector, it is fully aware that the real solution lies in the long term measures which will bear fruit only after a certain gestation period.
  The third major problem that the Government inherited is regarding the poor provision of civic services. This is particularly true of the provision of drinking water. There were acute shortages that led to riotous situation in many areas in the summer of last year. Again, my Government has moved swiftly to augment the supply. The newly commissioned 40 MGD Nangloi Plant will be able to actually make a difference to the water scenario in the city only if raw water is available from Haryana. My Government is engaged in a continuous dialogue with Haryana Government in this regard. The Intervention of the Central Government has also been solicited to settle this issue. The Government is taking a series of additional measures including provision of water tankers, additional underground reservoirs, water boosting stations and installation of tube wells and deep bore hand pumps, to meet the demand during the ensuing summer. Also, the 20 MGD plant at Bawana is likely to be commissioned in the coming year.
These are some of the many achievements of my Government in the short period that it has been in power. But, the biggest achievement of all has been that it has brought hope to the common man and has shown how an open and responsive Government should be run. My Government however realizes that this is only the beginning of a long journey. There is much more that needs to be done. The problems being faced by this city are complex, deep rooted and multi dimensional. And my Government is determined to address them squarely and with sincerity.
The problem that is uppermost in the minds of the citizens of Delhi is the increase in the crime rate, particularly in robberies and theft. It is the view of my Government that the Union and the State Government should jointly implement a more concerted mechanism so as to reverse this trend. The Government has been taking up and will continue to take up this issue with the Union Government. To meet the immediate situation, it has set up thana level and district level committees with the area MLA and area MP as their respective heads.
Many problems that the city faces emerge from the fact that Delhi is a magnet. It attracts people from all over the country and does it for good reasons. My Government believes in the right of an individual to free movement. It however, realizes that in the long run, a sustained improvement in the quality of life of the citizens of Delhi is not possible unless this issue is squarely addressed. If unchecked, the massive yearly inflow will tend to negate the efforts of the Government to provide better services and facilities. It is the thinking of my Government that this issue is best addressed within a regional framework. The concept of the National Capital Region provides one such framework. My Government would pay special attention to it. It would try to see that the neighbouring states appreciate that the underlying principle of ensuring that the entire region is equally attractive to those migrating into Delhi, will serve the interests of their individual states as well. It would work towards building up of a consensus regarding setting up of counter magnets around Delhi. The Government would also pursue the idea of converting this region into a common economic zone. The commonality that it envisages will go beyond that of fiscal uniformity and it will extend to such areas as transport, water, power, health and education.
The Assembly of Delhi came into being in the year 1993. The city has had the experience of the past five years of a new institutional arrangement. This arrangement and the multiplicity of authorities that it entails has not come up to the expectations of the people. There is, therefore, a need to have a re-look at this arrangement.
The massive inflow of people and the multiplicity of authorities have together meant that today an embarrassingly large proportion of Delhi’s population live in slums and unauthorized colonies. Millions live in unhygienic and precarious conditions. The recent fire at Yamuna Pushta is one example of the horrific consequences that such a living can have. Our hearts go to the surviving members of the families of those who lost their lives in the fire. This and other such tragic incidents have underlined the importance of the need to have a clear policy for slum improvement and for provision of low cost housing. My Government is committed to providing affordable shelter and other basic amenities to the poor. The Government proposes to set up a Low Cost Housing Corporation to provide dwelling units to them. A detailed programme in this regard will be announced shortly. In the immediate however, my Government has allocated Rs. 5 crore to allow the utilization of incomplete houses meant for the Safai Karamcharis in the MCD. This provision has been made as an exception to the standard procedures and speaks volumes about the commitment of the Government to the task of providing housing for the poor.
My Government is deeply concerned about the encroachment on public land. The problem has many dimensions including human. It calls for a detailed study and a bold policy. My Government will soon bring out a strategy paper in this regard. My Government stands for transparency and non-discrimination in the whole process of removal of encroachment by various agencies. It will also pay special attention to the task of prevention of encroachment on public lands and will devise mechanisms to achieve this objective. The issue of unauthorized colonies is a related issue and is of equal concern to the Government. My Government is determined to provide basic amenities in these colonies specially to ensure that there is no outbreak of any epidemic there.
The issue emanating from the transport sector are at the root of many a problem that the city faces. My Government is committed to the task of providing effective, adequate and environment friendly public transport using clean fuels. This will be achieved through the integration of the MRTS, an up-graded Ring Rail and the DTC, suitably strengthened . The Government will pursue the possibility of private participation in these areas. To achieve the ultimate objective of ensuring that there is a smooth flow of traffic the Government is engaged in a massive exercise of construction of a number of flyovers. It is also open to the idea of elevated systems. The Government has already achieved some success in these areas. One indication of the growing confidence in the ability of the DTC to meet the challenges of tomorrow can be seen in its use for the historic Swaran Jayanti Bus Service between Lahore and Delhi. I would like to congratulate the Corporation for successfully implementing this national project.
The vision of an environment friendly and prosperous Delhi will be reflected in the new industrial policy which my Government will soon be announcing. The scheme of relocating industries from residential and other non-conforming areas of the NCT of Delhi is being implemented by the Government in accordance with the provisions of the Master Plan. My Government will expedite the setting up of an information technology park to meet the specific infrastructural requirements of this sector including the state of the art data communication facilities.
To fully exploit the potential of the agricultural sector to generate incomes, it is necessary that modern technology is widely used. My Government will facilitate this process by disseminating information about the new technologies regarding an optimal use of land, water and other inputs. It will also encourage production of commodities that involve high value addition in such fields as floriculture and horticulture. This encouragement to floriculture and horticulture will also serve to reverse the trend of diversion of agriculture lands for non-agricultural purpose. Revival of agriculture sector through these means is central to my Government’s plan for an integrated rural development.
The education sector especially primary education is crucial to the task of nation building. My Government is committed to providing access to education through formal and informal channels to all children of school going age. A significant step in this direction has already been taken through the mobilization of a number of NGOs who have organized themselves as a Citizen’s Mission. The Government will actively work with the mission to achieve the objective of universalisation of elementary education with the special emphasis to addressing the problem of dropouts. There is also a need to revive the literacy programme which has been allowed to lose its steam. The Government is fully conscious of the need to provide adequate and good quality infrastructure in schools befitting the status of the city as national capital. The Government will give special emphasis on the provision of facilities for computer education.
To give a further push to provision of higher education, Indraprastha Viswavidyalay was set up recently. It will finally be located in East Delhi with a campus in West Delhi. The university will focus on professional and other courses which have a direct nexus with employment.
The commitment of my Government to education sector is also visible in the increase in the proportion of plan allocation made to this sector over the last year’s allocation. The Government is aware that unless educational facilities are complemented by a job oriented training, the objective of gainfully employing our youth will not be met which in turn will lead to frustration among the youth and to an enormous wastage of human resources. To correct this situation, my Government will launch a special package for the unemployed youth who have reached the 10th class. This package includes provision of skills and their up gradation, basic kits and concessional finance to help them secure self-employment.
To provide better health care to the citizens of Delhi, the Government will strengthen the peripheral hospitals. Half of the 140 dispensaries of Delhi will be upgraded to provide service on a 12-hourly basis when at present, it is available only on a six hourly basis. Five dispensaries will provide all round service on a trial basis. There is an urgent need to improve the efficiency in the implementation of the various national programme like the Leprosy eradication, the TB control and AIDS control. To achieve this objective the entire delivery mechanism will be streamlined and will be brought under a single authority at the district and the Chief Medical Officer’s Level. A revised national TB Control Programme has been launched and 102 DOTS centers and 14 chest clinics have been set up. Free medicine and microscopic facilities are available at these clinics. More hospitals and dispensaries will be opened to expand the reach of the health delivery system. 10 dispensaries will be opened in JJ Clusters in the first phase. AIDS is likely to become a major threat to public health. It has to be tackled with all seriousness through both awareness campaign and medical assistance. A programme will soon be launched in this regard. The Government will also improve the immunization status of the children through a new programme for control of measles, mumps and rubella. The pregnant women shall be provided antenatal checks and counsel for family planning under the Reproductive and Child Health Programme. More blood banks with mandatory checks for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C will be set up.
When my Government came to power there were deaths caused by dropsy which was mainly due to use of adulterated mustard oil. To deal with this menace, massive drives were launched through teams headed by the SDMs. As a result of these raids, it was possible to detect few cases of mustard oil adulteration which helped in avoiding a major calamity. This system of raids led by SDM has been institutionalized with the formation of one team in each of the nine districts. To ensure that there is no undue harassment, these teams shall conduct raids only in the presence of the SDMs. This system shall be further strengthened through setting up of more laboratories for testing of foods and drugs. These measures will enable my Government to provide clean and unadulterated food and drugs which is amongst the immediate tasks facing it.
A massive cleanliness campaign has been launched. The Campaign seeks to combine the efforts of the municipal agencies and the community to achieve better results. Rigorous thinking on how to deal with the problem of mosquitoes has been initiated. My Government expects to finalise a detailed plan in this regard after consultations with the experts in the field. A comprehensive plan for preventing water borne and vector borne diseases is being prepared. My Government realizes that providing adequate and efficient management and disposal of solid and liquid waste is a major challenge before it. Schemes are being drawn up to meet this challenge.
The Government intends to lay special emphasis on the welfare of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, other weaker sections, women and minorities. To address the specific issues concerning the Minorities, my Government will set up a State Minorities Commission. To ensure that the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are better served, the SC/ST Finance and Development Corporation will expand its activities. The Government feels that there is a need to set up separate Corporations for various sections of the society who may otherwise not be able to obtain assistance. Thus, Finance and Development Corporations will be set up for women, physically disadvantaged persons and minorities.
The ultimate test of good governance lies in reduction in the level of grievances of the public. Immediately on the assumption of office, my Government restructured the entire grievance redressal machinery at different levels. The nine Deputy Commissioners have been made the nodal officers at the district level. The set up at the district level has been strengthened for this purpose and one Additional Deputy Commissioner has been posted in each of the nine districts. At the state level, the Heads of Departments have been put in charge of the grievances pertaining to their respective Departments. A cell has also been set up in the office of the Chief Minister under a senior officer for the purpose of receiving and monitoring of disposal of complaints. In addition, the State Government is committed to making the Public Grievance Commission more effective.
I have broadly indicated the major perspectives, policies and programmes of my Government. The Finance Minister’s Speech on the budget will spell out the details.
In the end, as my Government seeks to give shape to its vision, it urges all sections of the society to join hands and to work unitedly to fulfill the growing aspirations of each and every citizen of this great city and to fulfill the dream of the father of the nation to wipe every tear from every eye.