Putting in place a robust public transport system, supplying piped water to each household and ramping up health and school infrastructure will be the AAP government’s top focus in the new year as it tries to shrug off disappointment of 2016 that saw its bitter confrontation with the Centre severely hitting the city’s governance.
As the AAP dispensation completes two years in February amid criticism that it failed to deliver on poll promises, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the government was working on its futuristic agenda and the focus will be on governance that touches lives of the masses and who have large stakes in the system.
The acrimonious relations between AAP government and Centre peaked when, the CBI, dealing a major blow to the Kejriwal dispensation, arrested Principal Secretary to the chief minister, Rajendra Kumar, along with four other persons in a corruption case in July.
The arrests triggered a political firestorm with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal training guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on virtually every issue, deepening the rift between the two sides whose impact was quite visible on the governance structure.
Initiatives such as mohalla clinics that have attracted global accolades and school education reforms will see further progress in 2017, said Sisodia with a rider that in a few cases, “pending files” will have to be cleared by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung.
With Delhi getting the dubious distinction of one of the world’s most polluted cities, Sisodia, in an interview to PTI, also said strengthening public transport to cut number of private vehicles on the streets will be another priority for the government.
The pace of work by the government got affected when Jung in August set up a panel to examine over 400 files pertaining to Delhi government’s decisions notwithstanding Kejriwal’s strong objection. The panel headed by former CAG V K Shunglu submitted its report last month where it pointed out many discrepancies by AAP government.
The committee was set up days after Delhi High Court had stamped the primacy of the LG saying he is “administrative head” of the city.
Terming the Delhi High Court verdict as “historic”, Jung had then said, “When we get elected, it doesn’t mean we are rulers and instead we will have to work and confine ourselves to our roles and jobs which are in the framework of the Constitution”. AAP government had challenged the HC’s order in the Supreme Court and it hopes that the apex court’s judgement will be in its favour.
Looking back at the year gone by, Sisodia said government has prioritised a number of areas which include supplying piped water to all 1,639 unauthorised colonies. “We have set a target of providing piped drinking water to every household including in slums and unauthorised colonies in 2017.”
Sisodia, who holds the education portfolio as well, is driving the reforms in schools, marked by initiatives aimed at sprucing up infrastructure, improving learning standards and elevating the level of pedagogy by getting teachers trained in world class institutes in India and abroad.
In May, AAP government had dismantled controversial Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor, a pet project of the Sheila Dikshit government, citing it was causing a traffic mess.
The deputy chief minister said the government has also plans to set up ‘Teachers’ Education College’ which may function from new session in March or April next year. The college will be affiliated to Ambedkar University.
In January, AAP government had introduced ‘Odd Even Scheme’, a new format of the anti-pollution measures, to bring down the rising air pollution.
However, experts were divided whether it had so much impact on the city’s air pollution. The second phase of the car-rationing scheme was from April 15 to April 30.
Government also hopes that in 2017, it will complete all development works in around 1,639 unauthorised colonies whose residents are considered to be a major vote bank of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party.
“In unauthorised colonies, there has been a delay in executing several development works in unauthorised colonies as an officer who was looking after this project was suddenly transferred and new officer was appointed by the LG.
“We hope that in 2017, we will be able to complete all development works including construction of roads and drains in unauthorised colonies,” Sisodia said.
In June, Jung approved the Delhi government’s ambitious proposal according to which motorists obstructing to the plying of buses in their dedicated bus lanes will be imposed a fine of Rs 2,000. Initially, LG had denied his nod which led to confrontation with the city administration.
The AAP government has been alleging that Jung has been stalling various developmental projects and schemes at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office but the LG, rejecting the charges, says he was following constitutional norms and procedures.
In February, Delhi government had ordered a magisterial inquiry which found no evidence of JNU Students’ leader Kanhaiya Kumar raising anti-India slogans during a controversial event.
According to government’s claims, its Public Works Department (PWD) has saved a lot of public money in its several projects.
Last month, a 23.6-km Vikaspuri-Wazirabad signal free corridor was thrown open to the public. PWD has claimed that it has saved crores of rupees in the construction of this corridor.
Government has also plan to make Wazirabad-Noida stretch signal free. It has proposed to construct a flyover from Majnu-ka-tilla to Metcalfe House in North Delhi which will ensure smooth ride for motorists.
2016 also witnessed calling of several special sessions of the Delhi Assembly by the Kejriwal government on several issues including the functioning of all BJP-led civic bodies, chikungunya and dengue among others.
In next year, the Delhi Assembly will install CCTVs cameras and deploy civil defence volunteers in the offices of AAP MLAs, accepting the demand of law makers who had expressed apprehension that they might be “framed” in false cases.