The Second Delhi Legislative Assembly

(Budget Session)

22nd MARCH, 2000

           Mr. Speaker Sir, Hon’ble Members,

  It gives me great pleasure to extend to you a warm welcome to the Budget Session of the Second Legislative Assembly of Delhi for the year 2000. The year 2000 marks the beginning of a new century. It has come at a time when the world is seeing a shift in the paradigm of governance. It has come at a time when the very fundamentals of how government services are delivered, are being reworked. And the forces that are driving these changes are the exciting developments in the field of information and communication technologies. These forces which have created opportunities that never existed before, are themselves being supported by a growing citizen expectation, articulated more forcefully today than ever before. This increased citizen awareness is powering another kind of change in the way governments are run. There is an increasing skepticism about the adequacy of citizen participation through the means of representational democracy alone. There is a need to both strengthen this form and to invent newer institutional forms of citizen participation which could complement it. Both these changes – use of new technologies and newer forms of citizen-government partnerships have far reaching implications and can not be made operational without a corresponding change in the work procedures and work culture within the government.
  My government was guided by this perspective when I addressed the inaugural budget session last year. It identified these three – citizen participation in governance, use of modern technology and overhauling of work procedures and culture – as the pillars on which its vision of good governance rests. Today is as good a time as any to look back and take stock of the progress we have made in these directions and also to look forward and gauge the magnitude of the task that lies ahead. I shall also outline the thinking of my government on its other main priorities. These are primarily in the field of provision of infrastructure – water, power, transport, health and education; economic development & protection of the rights of the weaker sections; the rural sector, tourism sector, state of its finances and protection of our environment. As I do that, I will have an occasion to refer to the gains that it has made during its one year in office with regard to these areas. My Government’s Focus has been to convert its vision into changes that citizens can see and benefit from. I shall presently refer to these changes. But first let me turn to the revolutionary gains that my government intends to reap from the use of the exciting new technologies which are shaping an entirely new paradigm of governance.
  The new emerging paradigm seeks to change the way services are delivered to the citizen in a manner that largely delinks it from the way the government is organized. Service delivery need no longer be constrained by where the office is located, what are its timings and which part of the government is responsible for that particular service. The new developments in the information and communications technology through the use of the Internet, call centers, interactive voice response systems and kiosks etc. make this possible. My government is fully committed to make full use of these new exciting developments to ensure better delivery of services to Delhi’s citizens. As it gives final touches to its strategy in this regard, the government is conscious of the challenges that lie ahead. It is aware that the complexities in service delivery networks have evolved over a long time. And that they were necessitated by the need to prevent misuse and to safeguard public interest. That they reflect a cumulative growth in government’s Role as its size and that of the population it seeks to serve, has grown. These complexities can neither be wished away nor removed overnight. It is aware that simply throwing technology at the problem is a sure recipe for disaster. It is conscious of the need to not only carry out process re-engineering but also ensure that the whole effort is strongly backed by employee support. It firmly believes that the public servants have to be agents of the change that the citizen is demanding and the techn ology is making possible. It believes that for far too long the public servants have been undermined and neglected when they have always risen to the challenges posed to them specially during calamities and such times as elections. For far to long has the individual employee borne the burden of the inefficiency of the system within which he functions. It is time to bring about those systemic changes and it is time to pay attention to the incentives and rewards for the employees. My government will reward results, encourage acquisition of necessary skills and support innovation.
  As it prepares itself to meet these challenges, my government is keen to learn from other governments and from private businesses around the world. It is also keen to enter into partnerships with the private sector to not only generate resources but also to effectively keep track of the fast pace of the changes in these technologies. The government will also keep in mind the issues of the need for securing privacy, ensuring security and bringing about legislative changes to facilitate full use of these technologies.
  One particular challenge that the government is acutely conscious of is the need to ensure that there is universal access to these technologies. The Delhi Financial Corporation has launched a scheme for up gradation of existing STD PCOs into cyber café. Subsequently a number of such café have been opened. Special kiosks in slum areas are also on the anvil. In the field of actual delivery of the service, the government has made some notable progress in a few areas. It refurbished its web site to make it more interactive. The site contains, inter alia, all pre application information including downloadable forms. The Sales tax department, Transport department and Excise department are leading the charge in the area of electronic service delivery.
  Though my government’s IT vision is focused on service delivery to the citizen, it is not limited to it. It wants to grab the opportunity offered by the ongoing IT revolution to realize the potential of the city to be the IT capital of the country. The excellent education & training facilities, the highly skilled manpower, developed IT infrastructure and international presence all place the city in a unique position to achieve that status. My government therefore aims to provide an IT friendly policy environment to the industry. A beginning has already been made in this direction. The government is recasting the industrial policy with a view to encouraging IT and IT-related services. A hi-tech city which will meet all the infrastructural requirements of the IT sector is being set up in Pappankalan, Dwarka Phase-II, near the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Also, DFC is about to become the first state financial corporation to set up a venture fund for IT start-ups. IT education to government school children is a priority for my government. Government is committed to provide computer education in 50% of these schools in the next financial year through innovative arrangements involving the private sector. In keeping with the focus of the government on modern technology, the Guru Govind Singh Indraprastha University is also setting up a remote sensing center.
  As my government set about giving shape to citizen participation, it understood that there is need both to increase the efficacy of dominant representational form of citizen participation as also to evolve new mechanisms of enlisting such participation. To strengthen the effectiveness of the elected representatives, it constituted district development committees to oversee and monitor development works at the district level. This is a new arrangement and needs to be carefully nurtured to ensure that it is able to make a difference at the field level. To complement this form of citizen participation, the government identified two broad new institutional forms around which it could develop. First one involves formal partnership between citizen groups and the government. It has named this programme Bhagidari. These partnerships will be issue based and will derive sustenance from the fact that the various partners share a common agenda and need each other to fulfill this common agenda. Typically the groups will be resident associations, NGOs and the corporate sector. One example of such partnership is a partnership involving NGO, Corporate sector and the government in providing a caring atmosphere in our welfare homes. Another partnership would be between resident associations on the one hand and various public bodies like DJB, DVB, MCD and Environment department, on the other. Yet another has been among NGOs, government and Resident associations to provide cleanliness. While some of these partnerships are already underway, many more are in the offing. The second institutional form identified by my government for building citizen participation involves mobilization of the citizenry around a unifying theme. Here the emphasis is on what a citizen can contribute as an individual. We have called this drive, the My Delhi I care drive. One example of a success in the last year was the anti crackers campaign run largely by our school children.
  The third pillar of good governance that my government identified involved overhauling of work procedures and culture. This is an area where long-term reforms are necessary to ensure that they are citizen oriented and efficiency oriented. I have referred above to what some of these changes might be. In addition, the government identified that a quantum jump can be made in this direction if it grants to the citizen the right to information. This is hoped to work as a catalyst that will at one stroke remove many of the procedural bottlenecks that come in the way of transparent governance. A group was therefore constituted for this purpose. The government is now ready to introduce a bill on the right to information. Pending enactment of this legislation, it is proposed to bring most government information into public domain through administrative arrangements and executive orders. Already Food and Civil Supplies department has issued directions that make it mandatory for the FPS owners to allow access to cardholders to information pertaining to him.
To bring about lasting improvement in work culture my government intends to launch quality circles among its employees. The use of this administrative innovation has proved to be an effective instrument of change in large number of organizations around the world. Also, the government has decided to develop performance audits of its departments. They will be based on benchmarks of efficiency and overall performance. While a package of incentives for the employees is being worked out, to provide housing to its employees a society called “AWAS” has already been formed. The Government will provide appropriate help to the society.
It is a matter of some satisfaction that with regard to all the three pillars of good governance that the government had identified last year, it has taken, during the year, strong and purposeful steps to give concrete shape to that vision. It is now moving ahead with clarity to carry this process forward.
Apart from these initiatives, the government can look back with satisfaction at some of its other major achievements during the last year. These include a significant and widely lauded reduction in pollution levels in the city, a very tight leash on the prices of essential items and a considerable improvement in the supply of power in the city. The government notes with satisfaction that there was an improvement in the crime situation in the city during last year.
I shall now outline the thinking of my government and progress made by it, with regard to some of the other areas that have engaged its attention during the last one-year. The most important have been the crucial sectors of power, water and Transport. I turn to these sectors now.
Power situation is perhaps the most talked about subject for Delhi’s citizens. Not only because it impacts crucially on their lives but also because it has been a major source of concern for them and hence for my government. My government inherited a power system that was marked by a rising and embarrassingly high levels of Transmission and Distribution losses; a virtually bankrupt finances, very weak distribution network, and poor customer relations. To this must be added the reality of Delhi being a massively power-deficit state with a heavy dependence on outside sources of power. Far from being cowed down by this rather fearsome scenario, my government set about its task in right earnest. It met with the immediate task of short run management of demand during summer months through a multi-pronged approach. The backbone of which was a fierce anti-theft campaign, which has continued since, and today it earns the DVB Rs.5.5 crores every month. It augmented its distribution system. Through these and other measures, DVB managed to not only arrest the trend of rising T&D losses but also registered an actual fall in those figures. My government however realized that lasting improvement in the Power sector would be possible only if there is an attempt to bring about structural reform. It brought out a strategy paper which outlined its thinking on this subject. It has followed it up by establishing an independent Delhi Elecrtricity Regulatory Commission. It is now ready with the Delhi Electricity Reform Bill, which will enable unbundling of the operations of the DVB. Also, the work on the 330 MW Pragati Power Project is likely to commence shortly and the work on the Mandola-Bawana section of 400 KV ring has been completed. In the field of customer care, the DVB is in the process of computerization of its grievance redressal machinery and is shortly bringing out, in collaboration with FICCI, a booklet on consumer guidance.
An improvement in the Power sector augurs well for the water sector as well. But there are other specific challenges which my government faces here. One is to do with the total supply of treated water in the city. To make a real improvement here it is necessary to make the 40 mgd Nagloi plant operational. My government is redoubling its efforts to secure raw water from Haryana to allow this to happen. It has raised with the new Government in Haryana the matter of allowing use of their carrier system to bring an additional 125 cusecs of water from Bhakra for this plant. In the meanwhile, it will be augmenting its total supply of water through proposed 8 underground reservoirs and booster pumping stations in the trans-Yamuna area. An additional 24 MGD of water shall be added by digging ranney wells and tube wells. Also, the Sonia Vihar 140 MGD water treatment project is making rapid progress. All this is in additin to the 250 Tube wells, 1500 Deep bore hand pumps and 1 ranney well which my government constructed during last year. My government is extremely sensitive to the fact that there is a tremendous scope of increasing water availability through water harvesting measures. It intends to introduce a bill that will make it mandatory for new housing complexes to have such systems. Apart from augmenting the total supply of water, my government has paid attention to its distribution as well. It has initiated an ambitious plan to replace 115 km of old water pipes over two and a half year period. It intends to augment its fleet of tankers to ensure that distribution network is fully geared to meet the challenge of distribution during the next summer. The DJB is also conscious of the need to maintain the quality of water it supplies. Towards this end, it is ensuring that all its plants are fully compliant with regard to the stringent requirements of the pollution control committee. Already Keshavepur plant has been certified to be so.
The transport sector touches the lives of most of our citizens on a daily basis. An improvement here contributes significantly to the quality of their lives. My government believes that in the long run, the metro-rail transportation system is the appropriate response in this sector. The government is therefore closely monitoring the progress of the Shahdara – Tis Hazari 8.3 kms stretch which is likely to be commissioned by March 31, 2002. Work on the Vishwavidayalaya-Rail Bhawan underground sector is likely to start sometime during June-July 2000. My government is confident of ensuring implementation of phase 1 of metro rail project by year 2005. In the meanwhile, my government proposes to augment the city bus service maintained by the DTC through buses run by a few large fleet owners of repute. For this purpose, it is keen to invite big reputed companies. My government is keenly monitoring the construction of nineteen flyovers under construction now. Seven of these will be completed this year, and the remaining in the next financial year. My government is conscious that in all these key Infrastructure areas, its success will crucially hinge on its ability to generate adequate resources. As a strategy, it has consciously chosen to invite private sector participation in these areas in a calibrated and phased manner. I have had occasion to refer to some of these initiatives. To give a push to this process, my government has constituted a special group to encourage private sector participation in infrastructure development on BOT and BOOT basis. The group is also working with international funding agencies to generate greater resources to meet the growing needs of the city.
I shall now turn your attention to the social sectors of education and health. After which I shall talk about the policy towards the weaker sections and the slum dwellers, before turning to issues relating to the rural sector, tourism sector, state of the finances and the environment.
My government is keen to ensure that all the children in the age group of 6 to 14 years are attending school and receiving good education. It is working towards this goal through the literacy campaign and mobilization of entire civil society. To improve quality of education in schools it intends to further strengthen the Parent Teachers Associations and promote use of audio visual aids. It has decentralized administrative and financial powers to the district level. It intends to continue this process further. Its efforts have started bearing fruits as it achieved an improvement of 13% over the previous year in class x CBSE board results. To provide special incentives to girl students from JJ clusters, resettlement colonies and rural areas, my government has raised the stipend amount to around Rs.5 crores.
The Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, set up in 1998, has now been made fully functional. In the times to come it is expected to grow into one of the major centers of higher learning in the country.
In the health sector, my Government’s strategy is to remove regional disparity in the availability of health infrastructure and to strengthen the primary health centers. The latter will have round the clock emergency services. New dispensaries shall be provided in seven assembly segments which have so far not been extended adequate health cover. The government will continue up gradation of its existing hospitals. This year G.B. Pant Hospital will have arrhythmia and liver transplant units. The government is deliberating on a proposal to set up an institute to propagate Indian Systems of Medicine at Khera Dabour. In the first phase it is proposed to set up a Multi Therapy Clinic in collaboration with Government of India.
My government is aware of the potential damage that contamination in food can cause. It is therefore continuously upgrading its monitoring systems and has decided to set up laboratories for testing adulteration of food items and drugs.
I shall now turn to the programmes for the weaker sections of the society. The government will implement with greater vigour the existing schemes for them through the Delhi Scheduled Caste Financial & Development Corporation and the Social Welfare department. It proposes to set up a SC/ST Commission to facilitate their fuller development. It is also substantially enhancing the scholarship amount for SC, ST and OBC students. This enhancement has been long overdue. My government is introducing a new scheme for SC/ST entrepreneurs which will make a composite loan of Rs.50,000 available at concessional rates of interest. I am particularly happy to announce that my government has cleared the scheme of conversion of dry latrines into wet ones. It will be implemented in a modified from in Delhi for the first time since its conception thirty years ago. To encourage NGO work in the field of upliftment of SC/ST population, the government has instituted the Babasaheb Ambedkar Award for the NGO that is adjudged to have done the best work in this field.
Women need special assistance to allow them to fight the societal biases. My government is establishing Women’s development Corporation which will draw up schemes for setting up micro enterprises. The government will provide assistance to Women Cooperative Societies/Federations to allow them to play a more significant role in the economic development. Special resource centers are going to be set up to deal with the gender related issues in a sensitive manner. The government is also committed to review the working of Nari Niketans and other such institutions being run by the administration. It will endeavour to forge a partnership under the Bhagidari programme with NGOs to ensure that these institutions truly become the centers of care and hope. To meet the needs of women in distress, a help line has already been started. My government is committed to ensure effective implementation of relevant legal provisions to provide effective protection to such women. It is also prepared to bring about legislative changes to remove any lacuna that may be there in the law.
To ensure that the poor are specially protected against the price rise, the Public distribution system has been made more effective. In particular, better targeting has been achieved through identification and elimination of over one-lakh non-genuine claimants of kerosene oil through the PDS. Also, iodised salt and mustard oil have been added to the long list of items being sold through fair price shops.
Most of these poor in the city live in slums in highly uninhabitable environs. My government is aware that the long run solution to the growth of these slums lies in developing counter magnets around the capital. Towards this end, my Government has contributed Rs.48.75 crores to the NCR Planning Board fund. The fund will be utilized to support development works like construction of houses, relocation of industries, construction of National Highways and expressways in Delhi Metropolitan Area and NCR areas to ease pressure on Delhi.
In the meanwhile however, the government is fully committed to do the best it can to improve living conditions in these slums. To address the subject in a comprehensive manner, it has drawn up a slum policy which will be announced shortly. My government will help provide habitable dwellings to the poor by bringing about a more equitable distribution of existing resources. To facilitate this it has decided to setup a Social Housing Corporation which will take up construction of large number of LIG & EWS houses.
In the rural sector, the government is working towards strengthening the cooperative movement which is already playing a pivotal role in ensuring people’s participation in creation of societal wealth. My government would endeavour to ensure smooth management of cooperative societies and to restore democratic set up in the superceded cooperative societies. It has also introduced the innovative concept of Farmers’ Club to facilitate flow of information regarding uses and sources of credit. They will also assist the farmers in completing loan formalities. My government has also introduced a unique credit card system for farmers to further facilitate credit availability to them.
Before I move to the subject of finances and environment, let me briefly talk about tourism. Tourism in Delhi cannot be promoted if other sectors do not perform. But they can be given a special push through the festivals etc. that the government has been organizing. The Government has also been pro active in distribution of tourism related information. It has approved the scheme of Paying Guest Residential Accommodation which is hoped to not only increase availability of tourist accommodation but also provide an opportunity for increasing people to people contact. In addition, my government plans to develop and maintain 16 ancient lakes in Delhi. It is also proposed to replicate the hugely successful concept behind Dilli Haat by setting up similar centers in East, West, North & Central Delhi.
I shall now turn to the state of Delhi’s finances. As in the previous year, there is a surplus in the State’s Consolidated Fund and a major part of expenditure is met from internal resources. Delhi is among those progressive states that have adopted the regime of uniform floor rates of sales tax to ensure that the unhealthy and ultimately self-defeating competition among states does not harm the national economy as a whole. We are however aware that without other states also following this regime, our move will not prove to be meaningful.
Finally, I turn to another good news and this lies in the environment sector. The Central Pollution Control Board has documented that the average ambient air quality has improved during the last year in Delhi. This is a most remarkable achievement given that the trend had been just the opposite all these years. This is specially creditable as it has been achieved in the face of an ever rising vehicular population in the city. While the government deserves to be congratulated for this, it has not lost sight of the fact that there is much more that needs to be done. The commercial vehicles which are older than 15 years have already been phased out, unleaded petrol and use of low sulphur diesel have been introduced. Ten CNG DTC buses are on the road and 100 more have been ordered. More than 500 commercial taxis are running on CNG. My government is determined to further reduce air pollution by promoting adoption of clean technology, installation of pollution control devices and introduction of more CNG vehicles. The government recognizes that the attack on pollution has to be multipronged and must be addressed jointly by all concerned agencies. A comprehensive approach towards pollution will have to also address the issues relating to solid waste management. My government has already announced its strategy for cleaning up Delhi. It hopes to weave together the disparate sections of the society to jointly fight the menace of poor sanitation. Plastic bags are one of the main sources of garbage in the city. To tackle this, my government has launched a massive citizen based campaign. To further give teeth to this movement it has already introduced the anti-plastic bill.
I have spent sometime in outlining the thinking of the government on the major challenges the city is facing today. I have also had an occasion to refer to some of the progress that has been made in the last year in meeting these challenges. But most importantly, I have laid down my government’s agenda for action, the road map that it plans to follow. I am confident that my government will move strongly towards implementation of this agenda with the same determination that it has shown in the last year. And will provide even greater levels of satisfaction to the citizen who as always is central to all that my government plans and implements. I have indicated the major perspectives, policies and programmes of my government, the Finance Minister shall spell out the details in his budget speech. I now leave you to your deliberations, which I am sure shall be useful and productive.