When half-done is well-begun

Photo : AFP
Photo : AFP

However, public transport remains a sector where the government has miserably failed to improve the situation. The frequency of DTC buses is still an issue and the buses are inconvenient and unsafe for the elderly and people with disabilities. Middle-class commuters still have to put up with auto drivers who refuse to ply by meter. Parliament Secretary of the Transport Department and Burari MLA Sanjeev Jha agrees. “Aadat kharaab ho gai hai inki, time lagega unhe sudhaarne mein (Their habits are spoilt and it will take time to reform them),” he says. However, he hopes that issues related to auto drivers would be taken care by the Delhi government’s PoochO, a mobile-based app.

Landing into controversies just after success has been a constant feature of the Kejriwal government. The ouster of Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav from the party came just after its historic victory. And a few days after the Odd-Even fortnight, sanitation workers, doctors and teachers employed by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi struck work in protest against non-payment of salaries. Delhi kept stinking; patients in hospitals remained clueless; school bells stopped ringing. Through all this, the political tug-of-war between AAP and the BJP continued in the form of a conflict between the MCD and the state government. This was the third time since AAP came to power that Delhi was witnessing such a sanitation crisis — a clear indication that politics over garbage has indeed taken centre-stage in the national capital.


All Pain No Gain Health

By Shalini Bhardwaj

AAP Mantra: Three-tier health care structure


♦ The budget allocated for healthcare was Rs 4,787 crore, the second biggest allocation after education

♦ Starting of mohalla clinic in Pitampura


♦ 10,000 citizens succumb to dengue fever

♦ No monitoring of strict guidelines issued to private hospitals

♦ Strike by doctors due to nonpayment of salaries

♦ Only one of promised 1,000 mohalla clinics inaugurated in seven months

♦ No clarity on generic medicine policy

In Pipeline:

♦ E-health information system to connect 36 government hospitals with over 10,000 beds, 260 dispensaries and 45 mobile health which together will treat over 1.50 crore out patients, 5.6 lakh admitted patients and 26.90 lakh emergency cases annually.

♦ 1,000 primary healthcare centres, 150 polyclinics with specialists, super-speciality hospitals

♦ Health card for every citizen

♦ Check-up for all school children

“After the initial failure to tackle the dengue outbreak, AAP took drastic measures like mobilising government hospitals and warning the private players. I see it as comeback innings” – Pankaj Sharma, Entrepreneur


AAP’s relations with Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung is also another sore point. Many political observers say that Jung played an important role in the constant friction between the state and the Centre. For instance, he asked the government to release funds for the civic bodies, but never bothered to order the Delhi Development Authority, which he heads, to pay Rs 1,500 crore it owes to MCD. From the controversy over appointment of the anti-corruption bureau chief in Delhi to transfers of officers, knocking down orders passed by the state government and declaring commissions of inquiry (CNG scam, DDCA etc) as “null and void” — Jung had facilitated it all for the Centre.

“I have no doubt the BJP, both at the Centre and occasionally at the MCD level, has gone out of its way to create trouble for the new rival,” says Kejriwal’s former aide Yadav. “I have no doubt that AAP, too, has started enjoying it and thinks that this would be its principal route to power at the national level.” He also thinks that the ongoing rift has made Delhi’s demand for full statehood more difficult to achieve than ever before.

The tussle between the state and the Centre was only aggravated by the CBI raid on Kejriwal’s office. Kejriwal’s tweets calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “coward and psychopath” did not help improve the “relationship”. And the Delhi CM’s barbs aimed at the Centre following the demolition of shanties at Shakurbasti in December by the Railway ministry widened the rift. Perhaps, in an attempt to dispel negative portrayal in much of the media, AAP invested Rs 526 crore in an extravagant campaign involving billboards and ads on radio and television saying, “Wo pareshan karte rahe, hum kaam karte rahe” (They kept disturbing us, we kept on working).

“Inaugurated an elevated road made by Del PWD today. Sanctioned cost: Rs 247 crore. Completed at actual cost: Rs 142 crore. Unbelievable naa? (sic)” tweeted Arvind Kejriwal on 10 November 2015. This was about the Azadpur project that was floated during Sheila Dikshit’s reign. Seventy percent of the work was completed by the Kejriwal government in just eight months.

While the central government went ahead with major fund cuts in the education sector, Delhi Finance Minister Manish Sisodia harnessed it as an opportunity during his maiden Budget, announcing a 106 percent hike, taking the allocation for education to one-fourth of the total Budget. The health sector, too, got 45 percent more funds than last year.

In his recommendation for the forthcoming Union Budget, Sisodia not only sought a larger share for Delhi but also put the onus back on the Centre for supporting initiatives such as Odd- Even: “Delhi should be treated at par with other states for a share in Central Taxes which has remained stagnant at 325 crore since 2001-02. This will enable Delhi to get at least Rs 5,000 crore per annum as share in Central Taxes.”

He asked for a special package to implement the Odd-Even scheme and a minimum Rs 2,000 crore package as Basic and Performance Grants for Local Bodies similar to neighbouring states. “We have sufficient funds to implement the Odd- Even formula,” Transport Minister Gopal Rai tells TEHELKA. “We sought funds to strengthen Delhi’s public transport. Moreover, Delhi contributes huge money through taxes and gets a minuscule share. It’s our right!”

All this doesn’t mean, however, that all is well with the Kejriwal government. Meeting deadlines has been a big problem. For instance, it could keep neither the three-months deadline on WiFi, or the one-year one on bringing the Swaraj Bill. Moreover, the House that presented a ‘historic Budget’ and passed 10 Bills during the short winter session, failed to take up the Swaraj Bill that was drafted in 2013.

The government failed to implement public welfare schemes such as Aam Aadmi Canteen and swift expansion of mohalla clinics. It did not even meet the 1 April 2015 deadline for fixing issues related to unauthorised colonies. “Registration has not started yet,” says Mohammad Fahim who owns two buildings in New Ashok Nagar, an unauthorised colony. Property in such colonies have so far been “owned and transferred” on the basis of power of attorney. Though the process of surveying and demarcation started months ago, lakhs of residents like Fahim in the 2,000-odd unauthorised colonies of Delhi are still waiting for faster and smoother action.

Yet, Fahim does not hesitate to share a story of how corruption went down in the Kejriwal era. “In pre-Kejriwal times, I had to pay 96,000 to the police for my first five-storey flat. This time I got a rebate. The police were pleased with just half the amount, and they seemed sheepish while accepting the bribe.”