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AAP@1: Has Kejriwal delivered on his 'bijli, paani and sadak' promise?

Salma Rahman | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:36 IST

The last one year of the Aam Aadmi Party's rule in the National Capital has been nothing short of an extravagant broadway production. There certainly were enough theatrics - just about everything from passionate speeches, to corruption rows, to mudslinging to incidents of ink-flinging.

In their bid to win over Delhi residents - after their ill-fated 49 hour stint - the Aam Aadmi Party showered the capital with one promise after another. The AAP was also seen grappling with the 'Centre-manufactured' political turmoil which was aggravated by its 'not-so-cordial' relationship with LG Najeeb Jung and the Delhi police.

In the long list of assurances made by the party, three sectors that find a prominent mention are power, water and infrastructure.

So was the party able to perform to its best while addressing these areas?

Power

Living up to its pre-poll promises surrounding 'bijli', the AAP government announced a flat 50 per cent subsidy for people consuming less than 400 units a month. This came as as a huge relief for middle-income households.

Not just this, the AAP government pulled up the power discoms - Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd, BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd - and ordered a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit on several grounds.

However the efforts hit a roadblock with the Delhi high court holding that: "There can be no other audit by CAG at the instance of the state government when regulatory body, Delhi Electric Regulatory Commission, is already there to audit the accounts of discoms".

The Supreme Court is hearing appeals filed by the CAG as well as the state government against the Delhi high court order. According to media reports, the subsidy is costing the government around Rs 1,400 crore.

Water and sewage

As a part of its promises, the AAP government ensured free water of up to 20 kilolitres per household per month through a Delhi Jal Board metered connection.

The government also fell under sharp criticism for its free water scheme due to the predicted fall in the utility's revenue because of the Rs 23.3-crore subsidy.

File Photo

File Photo

But fate favored AAP and the DJB managed to declare an increase in the revenue which was Rs 178 crore more than the previous year (2014).

However, the overall promise of providing free water has not been met completely. There are a number of areas in the city which continue to witness long queues for water as people await the private and government tankers.

But the government should be appreciated for taking up an initiative to address the water woes. So far, pipelines have been laid in over 20 colonies which is benefiting around 7 lakh households.

The government also reduced sewer development charges from Rs 494 per square metre to Rs 100 per square metre - extending relief to around 152 unauthorised colonies where sewerage lines are laid.

But there is a dire need to further attend to the sewer connections in the city and also build upon the infrastructure for sewage treatment.

Infrastructure

This is one area where the promises made by the party have fallen short. The party has been facing opposition ire for keeping the development on the city on the back burner.

In 2015-2016 budget, all major infrastructure sectors - including public works, housing, urban and rural development - saw a reduced budgetary allocation, while funds were increased for the public health, education and power sectors. The BJP criticised the move, alleging that the capital outlay meant for development works has been reduced to fulfill the AAP's agenda - including water and power subsidy and that the allotted fund was meant to stall the infrastructural progress in the city.

The AAP government was also seen celebrating the inauguration of the elevated corridor between Mangolpuri to Madhuban Chowk at Outer Ring Road, which was built at the cost of Rs 300 crore - well below the sanctioned cost of Rs 450 crore. But the project was commission under former CM Shiela Dikshit.

The Centre's Rs 3,250-crore push to unclog Delhi's six flyovers comes as a sign of relief. According to media reports, these projects were conceived by the erstwhile Sheila Dikshit government but they got stuck due to shortage of funds and three consecutive elections. Notably, the government has also granted Rs 1,665 crore for DDA and Rs 85 crore for North MCD. The DDA and Delhi Police have also been asked to suggest measures to unclog city roads, officials said.

The AAP government managed to get rid of the 5.8 km Bus Rapid Transport corridor - or BRT corridor - which has been haunting Delhiites for years.

The government's Odd-Even formula for traffic helped reduce the pollution levels and brought about a marked reduction in the traffic congestion in the capital. However, this was an emergency measure rather than a long-term solution.

First published: 8 February 2016, 6:10 IST
 
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