The First Delhi Legislative Assembly

(Budget Session)

23rd MARCH, 1998

           Mr. Speaker, Sir and Hon’ble Members,

  I deem it both a pleasure and a privilege to welcome you to the First Session of the Swaran Jayanti year and which is also the fifth year of this Government in the service of the people of Delhi.
  My Government has completed four years since it assumed office in December,1993. The year 1998 has just been the change of Government at the Centre. It is also the year when my Government’s long cherished dream of Delhi attaining Statehood may become a reality. My Government is confident that after the attainment of Statehood the decision making process of the Delhi Government wouldbecome much smoother and m ore efficient and consequently implementation of schemes and delivery of services will be speeded up. Since April,1997 the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has been functioning with elected representatives. The year 1997 saw the commencement of the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of our Independence. This period also saw the Centenary Birth Celebrations of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. It is a matter of gratification that my Government celebrated these occasions in a most befitting manner. It was a unique privilege to celebrate in the capital the 14th August,1997 by organizing March of the Nation”. It was indeed a moving moment when the freedom fighters from all over the country participated in this march. Mrs. Anita Pfaff, daughter of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Capt. Lakshmi Sehgal, Col. G.S. Dhillon and Capt. Ram Singh of INA were among those felicitated by the Government of Delhi.
  My Government has spared no efforts in tackling the acute problems being faced by the citizens of Delhi because of massive influx of population and consequent congestion leading to growth of J.J. Clusters and unauthorized colonies. The civic bodies have also been facing several problems on this account because such growth of population leads to shortages of power, water and housing. And most important of it all insanitary conditions are created. The Government has been endeavouring its utmost to deal with all these serious issues which directly affect the daily lives of the citizens. Notwithstanding the various challenges faced, the Government is determined in attaining its objective to make Delhi both green and clean and simultaneously also ensure that the ecology and environment also improves.
  The just concluded elections to the Lok Sabha-one of the most peaceful ever held was conducted in an efficient, orderly and transparent manner and this has greatly helped in bolstering public confidence in the capability and integrity of the Administration.
  The law and order situation in Delhi has been well under control. We expect this situation to improve further with greater involvement of the elected representatives. The last one year had seen a serios of bomb blasts in Delhi. I am happy to state that the Delhi Police after vigorous efforts achieved a major breakthrough and has been able to solve most of these bomb blast cases and has thereby won the confidence of the public. We are continuously reviewing the functioning of the Delhi Police which is expected to be strengthened with addition of seventeen more police stations with supporting staff. The Home Guards have also been of great assistance to the Delhi Police.
  The Government also proposes to set-up expeditiously registering authorities right up to the district and sub-divisional level for issue of multi-purpose identity cards to the citizens of Delhi. This will be a great boon to the citizens of Delhi both from view of security angle as also the economic upliftment of weaker sections of society. It will also help in better planning and co-ordination of various socio-economic activities.
  The Committee set-up for rationalization of classification of prisoners and submitted its report which was accepted by the Government and the recommendations are under implementation. Another Committee is working to revise and up-date the Delhi Jail Manual and draft the Delhi Prison Bill on the basis of recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission. The working of the Prosecution Department is being closely monitored. A draft of the amendment in Delhi Fire Prevention and Fire Safety Act,1986 has been prepared and this is expected to overcome many of the short-comings of the existing law. Land has been allotted for construction of building for Forensic Science Laboratory whose functioning is also being suitably strengthened and streamlined.
  In the Transport Sector, with the growth in registration continuing unabated, the city reached the figure of three million vehicles on the roads. The resultant congestion and pollution have got the attention even of the Supreme Court. The Government prepared a detailed Plan of Action for vehicular pollution control which was endorsed and adopted by the Government of India in its White Paper on pollution and to which in the coming year the Government will give high priority in allocation of funds and in implementation. The Central Government has also constituted an authority known as Environment Pollution(Prevention & Control) Authority for the National Capital Region for a period of two years. This Authority shall exercise powers and perform certain functions for protecting and improving the quality of environment. Among reforms in the transport sector great emphasis is being placed by my Government on the strengthening and improvement of the public transport system.
The year 1996-97 also saw the rail based mass rapid transit system take concrete shape. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation(DMRC) began functioning effectively. The appointment of a full time Managing Director and other Officers, the work for acquisition of land and for appointment of a General Consultant gives us the feeling that the vital project may even be completed ahead of its time schedule.
My Government has also given high priority for encouraging the use of cycles as a safe and non-polluting mode of transport. Work on a master plan for a dedicated cycle track network was completed in the last year and the construction of cycle tracks according to this plan will commence in the coming year.
A concerted attempt at improving road discipline was made in the last quarter of the year and the greater effort has already started showing a decline in accident figures. Major changes in the safety requirement of school buses have also been incorporated in the Delhi Motor Vehicles Rules. The Government has a proposal under consideration to subsidize the charges for school buses in the case of Government schools.
My Government is fully committed to providing better health care to the residents of the capital. Greater awareness amongst the public and co-operation from them has helped the Government in bringing down significantly the cases of vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria. There was a similar decline in the cases of malaria and gastroenteritis during the year 1997-98. OPD and inpatient services are proposed to be introduced this year in some of the Government hospitals where they do not exist at present. While the good work in the field of pulse polio immunization continues facilities for preventive health care were not neglected.
The Government have since taken steps to set up an integrated institute of Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Yoga.
My Government believes that education holds the key to economic growth, social transformation, modernization and national integration and is, therefore, making earnest efforts to provide educational facilities to every child. Greater emphasis is being laid on mass literacy, non-formal education and improvement of quality of education at elementary and secondary level. The Government has replaced almost all tented class rooms except at the disputed sites.
The Government has decided to set up Indraprastha Museum at Kashmere Gate to depict the history and culture of the city. The foundation stone for this museum was laid in early December,1997. My Government has meanwhile adopted a scheme for preservation of selected monuments under sponsorship scheme involving private and public sector undertakings through a memorandum of undertaking. A legislation is also under consideration to declare the monuments of local importance as protected.
The Directorate of Higher Education has been set- up to look after Higher Education in Delhi. One of the important tasks being undertaken by this Directorate is to establish an Affiliating University in Delhi and for which legislation is in the process of being enacted. A new Engineering College for Women is also proposed to be opened.
My Government is now actively supporting a policy of promoting hi-tech industries as well as service and trade related activities. The accent is on promoting pollution-free, environment friendly hi-tech industries such as electronic, instrumentation, software and the like where there is high value addition and less dependence on unskilled labour. The Delhi Finance Corporation has also taken major policy initiatives in this regard.
In pursuance of the Supreme Court order as many as 52000 applications have been received from industries functioning in residential/non-conforming areas for relocation to conforming areas being developed by DSIDC. The process of ascertaining eligibility of applicants is in progress. An area of 4000 acres of land has been identified for the project and out of which 1000 acres has already been acquired. This is a self-financing scheme where the applicants will be asked to contribute in a phased manner for the acquisition of land and development of the Estates.
Fifteen Common Effluent Treatment Plants are to be set up by DSIDC in 28 approved industrial areas. The contribution from the industry is being collected and it is expected that work for setting up of the plants will commence shortly.
It has been the continuous endeavour of the Government to ensure the supply and distribution of essential commodities to the populace of Delhi through the Public Distribution System at subsidized rates and to regulate the stock and supply of foodgrains, sugar, pulses and other commodities in the open market. The upward trend in prices of wheat and onion in the recent past was checked by selling these items through mobile and static outlets.
My Government has revised the minimum wages from time to time. The rate of minimum wages for unskilled labour at present is Rs.1784/- per month and is the highest in this region. About fifteen lakhs industrial workers working in different industrial units and shops and establishments in Delhi have been benefited.
My Government has adopted a progressive sales tax policy based on optimal rationalization of tax rates and reduction of taxes with a view to ensure wider coverage. These policies have yielded good results. The revenue collection of Government which was Rs.1485 crores in 1993-96 will increase to Rs.3232.73 crores in 1997-98. This is the result of serious efforts made by the Government for streamlining and restructuring its financial management. The Vth Pay Commission has put a heavy financial burden on the Government but notwithstanding this my Government has managed to keep up the tempo of plan development 1997-98.
Although Planning Commission has deferred the process of finalizing the Annual Plan 1998-99 of the States and UTs in view of the Lok Sabha elections just concluded and formation of new Government at the Centre we have decided to finalize the Annual Plan 1998-99 on the basis of Central Plan Assistance at current year’s level as indicated by the Planning Commission and by taking into account our own resources. The actual size of Annual Plan 1998-99 will be finalized by the Planning Commission later after discussion with the Chief Minister and I am confident that our plan outlay will increase substantially.
In order to give effect to the policy of my Government that the offices will be decentralized for easy accessibility, the revenue office of the Deputy Commissioner was decentralized into nine districts and 27 sub divisions with effect from Ist January,1997. These offices have since been located conveniently to cater to the local requirements of the people.
Citizens’ Charter has also been prepared by most of the departments. My Government is also keen that like Citizens’ Charter there should also be Employees Charter which focuses on employees obligations, duties and rights and speedy settlement of their grievances. The Government would like to lay special emphasis during the coming year on general improvement and face lift of the residential colonies where the Government employees live.
The Government has also set up the Public Grievance Commission with a Chairman and supporting staff. The expectation is that it will provide a comprehensive mechanism for effective redressal of grievances of the public against the Departments of the Government of Delhi and local bodies, autonomous organizations/undertakings and other institutions owned or substantially financed by the Government of Delhi.
During 1997-98 the Delhi Subordinate Service Selection Board has been set up to take up the recruitment for various posts of “B” and “C” groups in MCD, NDMC and Delhi Vidyut Board and other Government Undertakings. The Board will also take up recruitment to Group “C” posts in the various departments of the Government of Delhi except Sub-Inspectors of Delhi Police who will continue to be recruited by the Staff Selection Commission, subject to a review after one year.
Similarly, the Lok Ayukt has been appointed to inquire into allegations against the public functionary. In this context it may be stated the Chief Minister and Ministers have already given a declaration of their assets. My Government has given top priority for a clean and transparent Government.
The Vigilance Directorate and Anti-Corruption Department of the Government have been strengthened and its activities are being galvanized through new district set up. These steps along with close monitoring and right to information should go far in making the administration more effective.
The Delhi Vidyut Board has been receiving the close attention of the Government and the power supply position in Delhi was by and large satisfactory. Despite system constraints the summer peak demand of 2149 MW in June,1997 and winter peak of 2355 MW in January,1998 was successfully met by the Delhi Vidyut Board. The power tariff was also revised w.e.f. 01.4.97.
Several measures for liberalization of commercial policy for grant of electric connection were taken to discourage theft of electricity and in turn raise revenue which is otherwise being lost because of theft. These concessions have been extended in the hope that the public will co-operate with the Government to reduce theft of electricity and pay up the electricity dues for the electricity consumed. Delhi Vidyut Board has also intensified checkings to detect the cases of theft and theft prone areas have been identified and additional staff has been deployed in these areas. The Government will come down heavily in all cases where the public does not take advantage of the liberalized commercial policy and instead continues to indulge in theft of electricity after the specified period.
Delhi Vidyut Board has initiated several measures for restructuring and reforms of the power sector in Delhi. To start with action has been initiated for privatization of distribution inEast Delhi for which “in principle” approval has been accorded by the Government of Delhi. Action has also been initiated for privatization of street lighting in East Delhi. A proposal is also under consideration to form a generating company of the existing power stations of Delhi Vidyut Board to attract the much needed capital for renovation and modernization and re-furbishing of these power plants.
Delhi Vidyut Board has also identified new generation projects. Apart from the 421 MW gas turbine station proposed to be set up at Bawana Phase-1, the Delhi Vidyut Board has also proposed to new generation projects one being the 600 MW gas turbine station at Bawana Phase-II and the other Pragati Combined Cycle Power to be established at Indraprastha Estate with an installed capacity of 600 MW.
My Government at present by optimizing is on an average supply about 600 MGD water daily. During the last one year tube wells, hand pumps and ranney wells have been commissioned to augment the water supply. The work on construction of 40 MGD treatment plant at Nangloi is in advanced stage of completion while work on construction of 20 MGD water treatment plant at Bawana has also commenced and is expected to be completed in 30 months. Underground water reservoirs and booster pumping stations have been commissioned to rationalize the distribution of water. The continuous checking of the quality of water is ensured through regular sampling.
The government of Delhi has taken up with the Government of Haryana for construction of parallel water channel from Munak to Delhi. The estimated cost of this project is Rs.90 crores. It is expected that once the lined water channel comes into existence the present water losses varying from 35 to 50% in the Western Yamuna Canal will get reduced to about 5% and the consequent saving of water will enable us to set up new water treatment plant to meet the fast growing requirements of Delhi. This matter has got somewhat delayed and we are hopeful that the Haryana Government will co-operate with us in expediting the implementation of this project.
My Government is setting-up 15 Sewage Treatment Plants all over Delhi thereby raising the capacity from the existing 284 MGD to 497.4 MGD. The work on three of these plants has already been completed with total capacity of 33 MGD. Four more treatment plants are expected to be completed by 31.3.1998. During 1998-99 seven plants are expected to be completed while one will be completed in 1999.
The above will also help considerably in improving the quality of water from the seventeen drains which flow into river Yamuna down stream of Wazirabad barrage upto Okhla. We are also laying lot of emphasis on management of the river front along the River Yamuna both by channelizing the water and cleaning up the river front and for which detailed action plan is being drawn up. A Sangam ghat is also proposed to be constructed on the Shahdara side of River Yamuna. It is also expected that the Tulsi Ghat on way to Wazirabad Bridge would be completed soon.
The Delhi Water Board Bill,1997 which provides for establishment of the Delhi Water Board to take over the functions currently being discharged by the Delhi Water Supply & Sewage Disposal Undertaking was passed by the Legislative Assembly on 1st January,1998 and the Bill has been reserved for assent of the President of India.
My Government has been pursuing with the Government of India the proposal to regularize the unauthorized colonies which had come up as on 31.3.1993. The High Court of Delhi has also taken cognizance of this matter. Efforts are on to have this matter finalized early. Meantime in anticipation of the approvals we are setting up a special cell in the Government to plan and work out the details relating to provision of basic amenities and community services in these colonies. We are also keen tat in all these activities the people of these colonies are fully involved through their residents associations.
The 1080 J.J. clusters continue to receive the close attention of the Government with regard to basic amenities such as drinking water supply, sanitation, drainage and health measures. Indeed providing the basic services and drawing up a relocation plan and insitu upgradation for 6 lakh jhuggies in these clusters with a population of about 30 lakhs is a formidable task. After due consideration a policy has been evolved under which the Government plans to relocate 30,000 jhuggies in the coming year. The effort is to resettle them near a new proposed industrial belt so that the jhuggi dwellers have easy access to employment opportunities. The relocation of jhuggies would release valuable land for implementation of various projects. Such shifting would also be desirable from the environmental and safety angle, which includes shifting of about 5000 jhuggies from along the railway tracks while those falling along the MRTS route would facilitate the implementation of the MRTS scheme in Delhi.
It is a matter of satisfaction that there has been a substantial and noticeable improvement in the sanitation standard of the city. Garbage lifted per day has increased from 3654 MT in 1995-96 to 4500 MT per day in the year 1996-97 and is likely to touch the figure of 5150 MT per day during the current year 1997-98. The removal of silt from nallahs and sewers by the MCD during the current year resulted in approximately 9 lakhs MT of silt being removed from the nallahs and 11400 cubic metres from the sewers.
The V.K. Malhotra Committee which was set up by the Government in December,1995 to examine all aspects of the Building Bye-laws in terms of the needs and requirements of the citizens of Delhi submitted the first part of its Report relating to residential areas. This report along with the views of the Government of Delhi was forwarded to Government of India. Most of the recommendations have been accepted by the Government of India who are now in the process of amending the relevant Central laws so that the recommendations can be given effect to in the field.
Although much more need to be done to augment the revenue resources of the Municipal Corporation the efforts made to increase the yield from property tax and the results achieved during the current year are commendable. The Corporation registered a record increase of Rs.74 crores in property tax in the year 1996-97 as compared to 1995-96 raising the figure from Rs.329 crores to Rs.403 crores. The estimated increase in the current year is around Rs.100 crores. The Corporation is, therefore, set to achieve the target of Rs.500 crores. Meantime the report of the F Delhi Finance Commission has been submitted to the Government and is under examination.
There has been a visible impact of removal of stray cattle. We are determined to remove all the stray cattle by the end of the current year. In this context steps are also being taken to identify land for shifting dairies to out lying areas. For this purpose about 5000 applications have been received and land is being acquired for the purpose.
The Delhi Development Authority has provision in local shopping centres, district centres and community centres for motor workshop. Necessary plans are being drawn up to relocate such work-shops from non-conforming and encroached areas to such centres. Similarly the Delhi Development Authority is drawing up plans to identify land at different locations in the capital for permitting the stacking and sale of building material.
The indicative prices of land for purpose of acquisition of agricultural land was revised to give farmer a fair return.
The Government has under consideration some very important projects like the Peripheral Expressway, elevated Ring Road and a new six lane bridge across the River Yamuna at Wazirabad. All these projects will require high level of financing and the thinking is to put user charges in the form of toll so that private sector could participate on Build, Operate and Transfer basis. Meantime a private sector bridge between NOIDA and Ring Road at Maharani Bagh has now been fully tied up. While this bridge has no funding or equity support from the Government of Delhi and it is being considered as a totally private bridge, they will also construct a flyover at Ashram Chowk at their cost. The construction contract has been awarded by the Company and the bridge should be completed by December,1999. Very recently the second Nizamuddin bridge on River Yamuna was inaugurated. This bridge was constructed in record time of two years with Japanese assistance. The Government has in 1997purchased from Sports Authority of India a building known as Players Building in the Indira Gandhi Stadium Complex. The work on this building will be completed within a year. Another complex near Metcalf House would also be coming up. It is also proposed to start the construction work on the flyovers at Punjabi Bagh, Dhaula Kuan, Safdarjung Hospital and Raja Garden crossing in the coming year.
Thirty Lok Adalats were organized by the Delhi Legal Aid and Advice Board(now Delhi Legal Services Authority) in which 10556 cases have been settled and 2974 cases were registered for free legal aid and advice out of which 1107 cases were decided.
The Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes has been receiving the close attention of the Government. Apart from increase in outlays the income limit of all welfare schemes has been raised upto Rs.24,000/- per annum. The various welfare schemes have been receiving excellent response. Many NGOs have also come forward to play a useful role.
The setting up of Computer Footwear Design Centre in collaboration with UNDP in December,1996 has received overwhelming response and against the target of 700 it has already benefited more than 800 footwear artisans in the area generating a revenue of Rs.2.5 lakhs per month for the Centre.
The Social Welfare Department continues to make all out efforts to provide services to socially deprived and disadvantaged groups comprising of handicapped, senior citizens, destitute, children and women. One time financial assistance was provided to 503 widows, the amount varying from Rs.10,000/- for widows in age group 18 years to 45 years and Rs.5,000/- for those in the age group 46 years to below 60 years.
Planned and integrated Development of rural village in Delhi through the “Mini Master Plan” received a great impetus during the last one year and this activity is expected to be expanded in many directions during the coming year. A sports stadium is also proposed to be set up at Bawana and for which land has been acquired. 136 Multipurpose Community Centres are proposed to be set up out of which 45 have been completed while work is in progress at different stages in the remaining centres. These activities have also achieved a tremendous boost after the visit of the President to Khanjawala Growth Centre and of the Prime Minister to the Multipurpose Community Centre at Nilothi.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Memoraial & Tourist Complex called “Azad Hinde Gram” is being set up at Tikri Kalan at an estimated cost of over Rs.3.00 crores. To mark the Centenary Celebrations of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, a statue of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was installed at this site on January 23, 1998. The first phase of the project is almost over and the entire project is likely to be made functional by the year end.
Delhi represents the composite culture of India having people from all parts of our country. The five Language Academies keeping this fact in view and focusing on the 50th year of Independence, staged Seminars, Workshops and Kavi Samelans on the contribution of Freedom Fighters from various parts of the country. They also brought out publications on and by the freedom fighters. Debates, elocution and recitation competitions on freedom fighters were held in various schools. Capt. Ram Singh of INA who had set the INA songs to music not only participated in the State level function but also played patriotic songs in various schools. The Sahitya Kala Parishad staged dramas and cultural programes all over Delhi. Recognizing the contribution of the Academies and the Parishad the Euro Union, a Union of European Countries in collaboration with Sahitya Kala Parishad staged EURO INDIA JAZZ festival to celebrate the 50th year of Independence and which received overwhelming response.
The Environment and Forest Department continued with its multifarious activities to improve forest cover by undertaking plantation along roads, railway tracks, drains, river banks, Gram Sabha land and ridge area. The Ridge Management Board co-ordinated the various activities performed by different land managing agencies and also focused on issues related to management and preservation or ridge. An area of 450 acres has been regenerated by Natural regeneration cum enrichment planting combined with soil and moisture conservation measures.
The Delhi Government has recently approved in principle a Project for Bear Sanctuary in segregated and fully fenced portion of Asola Sanctuary with techno-financial assistance from World Society for Protection of Animals. The bears for this Project would be impounded from Madaris along the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur belt. While ensuring the rehabilitation of the bears subjected to cruelty the madaris engaged in the trade would also be rehabilitated.
My Government recognizes the fact that the all round development of Delhi cannot be looked at in isolation and the National Capital Region has a critical role to play if the sensitive problems of the capital are to be resolved satisfactorily. The Central Government will have to intervene and play a much more active role with a view to bringing together all the States involved and getting the thorny issues settled.
I have outlined the important policies and programes as also the priority and thrust areas identified by the Government for implementation in the ensuing year. I am confident that with the guidance, help and co-operation of the august Members of this House and the dedication and hard work of the Officers and staff of the Government, local bodies and others concerned the Government will implement its programes expeditiously and fulfil its commitments to the people of Delhi.
In this session of the Assembly besides the presentation of the Budget, Legislative Business proposed to be transacted will also be discussed.
In the coming days you will have an opportunity to discuss the Budget, the Plan programmes and the policies of the Government included therein. I am sure the Government will benefit from your suggestions.
May I conclude by wishing you all success in your deliberations.