Planning Commission has approved Delhi’s Annual Plan for 2005-06 at 5100 cr – an increase of 12.5% over the outlay of 4532 cr for last year. Sector-wise expenditure in the two Annual Plans, approved under different central governments, are nearly identical, also in terms of being largely violative of the statutory framework for planned development of Delhi (Constitutional responsibility of central government) and inefficient and inequitable in comparison with it. Doubts arising from this situation are compounded by the claims of Delhi model having inspired urban development proposals in the union budget as well.
Despite the increased outlay, planned expenditure has declined in both absolute and percentage terms in 5 out of the 29 budget-heads. Of these Energy is down by 23% to 488 cr (but if the budget cut for Power Sector Reform (para-19) is discounted the outlay has more than doubled) and Information & Publicity is down from 5.6 cr to 5.0 cr (though Publicity is presumably covered also in other heads). There are small cuts in the budget for Irrigation & Flood Control (down by 10% from 19.1 cr to 17.2 cr) and Science & Environment (down by 13% from 5.4 cr to 4.7 cr) and the budget speech is also rather silent on GNCTD’s commitment to environment in general and rainwater harvesting in particular – the only reference to rainwater harvesting is in the sentence “Rain water harvesting, storage of flood water in flood basin areas will improve the ground water level in Delhi” (para-44 under Water Supply & Sanitation) and under Environment are mentioned only proposals to “beautify and develop embankments of some of the major drains” (para-76) and “adequate financial assistance” to DPCC for pollution monitoring (para-78) and, curiously, “great pleasure to inform the Hon’ble members that forest cover has increased by 23 sq km between 1999 and 2001” (para-77). In the steepest cut in percentage terms, Industry is down by 38% from 46 cr to 28 cr. In the budget speech this section begins by acknowledging that “industrial development is a pre-condition for economic development” and goes on to talk about DMRC’s IT Park being constructed on the riverbed with interest free loan of 20 cr from GNCTD (para-88), general self-employment schemes (para-89 & 90), industrial estate already developed in Bawana and acquisition of 175 Ha for another such estate in the city fringe and estate planned for gems and jewellery sector (para-91).
On the other end, outlays under 5 budget heads have increased by 50% or more – Survey & Statistics (up by 50% from 2.5 cr to 3.8 cr), Jail (up by 51% from 23.8 cr to 35.8 cr), Sports & Youth Activities (up by 61% from 8.7 cr to 14 cr), Housing (up by 83% from 12.1 cr to 22.1 cr, described in a single para in the budget speech: “government is concerned about the shortage of residential accommodation for our employees resulting in low levels of satisfaction. We have started construction of staff quarters for our employees at Dwarka and Vasant Kunj and are planning to purchase land in different parts of the city for construction of more houses for our employees” (para-92)) and Co-operation (up by 253% from 0.17 cr to 0.60 cr – perhaps for promoting “Bhagidari”, which the Minister says, “showcases our philosophy of governance” (para-103), in keeping with which there are prolific references to RWAs and NGOs throughout the budget speech). In absolute terms, the 5 budget-heads with over 50% increase in outlays account for a meagre 1.5% of the total outlay for 2005-06 and just 5.1% of the increase of 568 cr over the outlay for 2004-05, just as the four heads (other than Energy) with budget cuts amount to only 1.1% of the total and (-)3.6% of the additional outlay.
In the main, the percentage outlays for various sectors in 2005-06 are more or less the same as in 2004-05. Tourism (down to 0.24% from 0.25%) and Art & Culture (up from 0.28% to 0.31%) get a paltry 0.71% of the additional outlay and no separate mention in the budget speech. Nutrition (steady at 0.9%), Civil Supplies (steady at 0.05%) and Weight & Measure (steady at 0.02%), likewise, get a paltry 1.27% of the additional outlay and no separate mention in the budget speech. Agriculture and Allied Services (steady at 0.45%) and Rural Development (up from 1.83% to 2.09%) get 2 paragraphs in the budget speech (64 cr out of the 106.7 cr outlay for projects recommended by Rural Development Board (para-87) and farmers’ haats like inaugurated by CM at Andheria Morh (para-86)) and 4.63% of the additional outlay. Other Administrative services also get 4.67% of the additional outlay and 8 paragraphs (mentioning ideas for disaster management, civil defence, Delhi Fire Services, District Courts, fast-track courts, lok adalats, EVMs, citizen service bureaus (para-93 to 99) and outlay of 72 cr for promotion of e-governance and computerisation (para-100)). The total outlay for these administrative services is 118.6 cr, besides 2.64 cr (0.05%) under the budget-head called Secretariat Economic Services. With Labour and Labour Welfare down to 0.24% from 0.25%, Social Welfare down to 2.06% from 2.09% and Welfare of SC/ST/OBC steady at 0.8%. Welfare programmes, described in 7 paragraphs in the budget speech (4 about projects through NGOs), get only 2.76% of the additional outlay.
Health and Education account for 21.58% of the additional outlay, with Medical and Public Health marginally up from 11.54% to 11.88% and Technical Education from 0.85% to 1.01%, and General Education down to 7.37% from 7.7%. The budget speech has 7 paragraphs on Health and though the increase from 523 cr to 606 cr is short of, say, the amount mentioned for just two speciality projects – 123 cr Institute of Liver & Biliary Sciences at Vasant Kunj and the 57 cr remodelling of the Institute of Human Behaviour & Allied Sciences (para-63) – much is made of it (“Government is planning to provide the best possible healthcare infrastructure to the citizens of Delhi and this is clearly visible in the form of ongoing massive construction of buildings for new and existing hospitals in all parts of Delhi. It is also evident from the … 12% outlay” (para-58) and “keeping in view the growth of population, I propose to increase the allocation for health …a growth of 16% (para-64)). The stagnant outlay on Education, likewise, is glossed over in the 11 paragraphs about it in the budget speech (mentioning IT award for Education department, increase in pass percentage at secondary level during 1998-2004, computer education at secondary level and, without reference to overall status, some numbers of new schools and buildings and porta cabins, details of Delhi College of Engineering and sanction of 20.48 cr (of total outlay of 51.51 cr for Technical Education) for new engineering college at Geeta Colony). About failure to ensure equal education for all children, the minister is “happy to inform that our Government has brought 1.11 lakh out of school children in the age group of 6-14 years, into the fold of educational system under “sarva Shiksha Abhiyan”… with the help of 202 NGOs running 3345 Learning Centres… These underprivileged children are being empowered by providing them education and life-skills” (para-70).
The only striking increase is in the outlay for Urban Development, up by 35.6% from 579 cr (12.8%) to 785 cr (15.4%). However, what GNCTD means by urban development is unclear from the 6 paragraphs about it in the budget speech that mention, besides budget-free ideas of inviting regularization applications from RWAs in unauthorised colonies and training by NGOs of slum dwellers to form multi-purpose cooperatives for in-situ flats, outlays for water supply and sanitation and transport schemes (including 35 cr for projects recommended to DJB by MLAs (para-49) and 72 cr for touristy projects like boating, Socio-Cultural Complex, Delhi Haat, etc, approved by Trans Yamuna Board (para-51). Nevertheless, Urban Development accounts for 36.1% of the additional outlay, second only to Transport (43.4% of the additional and 26.8% of the total outlay). These two, with Water Supply & Sanitation and Public Works, account for a whopping 88.1% of the additional and 58.07% of the total outlay (up from 54.32% in 2004-05). With Energy they account for 67.63% of the total outlay (against 68.24% in 2004-05). The budget speech mentions 200 cr “to initiate the preliminary works on selected projects” for Commonwealth Games (para-102), but this is not a separate head in the table of sector-wise outlays although the amount is higher than the outlay for 23 of the 29 budget heads tabulated.
All in all, GNCTD’s Annual Plan for 2005-06 is an inertial, simplistic extrapolation of its budget for 2004-05 with no attempt to rectify inter-sector inequities. GNCTD’s successive Annual Plans are heavily skewed in favour of what it calls “development”, but is more like a medley of ad-hoc infrastructure projects that does not add up to anything even remotely in the nature of planned development and reduces all fiscal rationalizations and reforms to book-balancing acts since all revenues raised are doomed to wasteful unplanned inefficient expenditure.
Consider Environment, one of the 5 sectors with budget-cuts even as much of GNCTD’s publicity expenditure is spent on hard-selling its clean-green image. On greening, while the Finance Minister was taking great satisfaction in informing the Assembly in his budget speech for 2005-06 that the forest cover had increased by 23 sq.km in 1999-2001, an official in the Chief Wildlife Warden and Chief Conservator of Forests' office was telling Times of India that “112,000 planted saplings were demolished due to Delhi Metro Rail projects, which the department is hoping to replant. A new state-of-the-art flyover near Garhi Mandu near Waziarabad is coming up this year. The project will demolish huge plantation the department has completed recently”.1 On cleaning, the budget speech mentions drain beautification but is silent on sewage treatment plants, bio-medical waste, e-waste, etc. It proposes for its DPCC, which has or has taken responsibility for the amended EIA notification that requires EIA for large construction projects, financial assistance for only pollution monitoring, while GNCTD has simultaneously also approved (in line with direction of Supreme Court Monitoring Committee to DPCC) a Local Area Environment Committee to monitor disposal of hazardous waste and a civil-society expert on it (one of those helping GNCTD’s efforts since 2000 to obfuscate polluting and non-conforming units) told The Hindu that, “we wanted to hold discussions with the industry to sort out the issue. But now… the industry will be more concerned about closure”.2
A key environmental issue in Delhi in general and its ridge-river ecosystem in particular is ground water, which finds only passing and meaningless reference in the budget speech. Despite the claim of “second priority” to water supply and being “concerned about growing water requirements” the budget speech has only loose talk about “taking up the Renuka Project matter with the government of Himachal Pradesh… the Lakshwar-Vyasi and Kishao Projects with the Uttranchal and UP Govts” and concrete figure of 140 cr already released “to Haryana Government for construction of 102 kms long pucca parallel channel from Munak to Haiderpur” – even as it concedes that the promise of limitless Tehri water through Sonia Vihar, that has spawned for four years identical loose talk and concrete investments in pipes and also all manners of unplanned projects, has been broken. The Hindu reported the same day, “In a complete U-turn, the Chief Minister declared in the Delhi Assembly yesterday that 140 MGD water from the Sonia Vihar plant would flow only though the courtesy of the Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh governments. It is for the first time that Ms. Dikshit refused to give a clear deadline for making the plant operational as there seems uncertainty over supply of water to this plant from the Tehri dam”.3 The budget speech does not mention likely expenditure on account of the Rs.50,000 that GNCTD will have to pay for each day that the Sonia Vihar plant remains un-operational as per its agreement with Degremont, or the savings from abandonment of ideas, including for 24x7 water supply in South Delhi, that assume a functional Sonia Vihar. The opposition’s criticism also appears focussed at the deal with multi-national company rather than at the larger damage that the promise has spawned4 – and that may well continue being spawned by new promise of canal from Munak – in terms especially of excessive ground water withdrawal. For ground water recharge the budget speech says only that “Rain water harvesting, storage of flood water in flood basin areas will improve the ground water level in Delhi” (while also mentioning at least two projects – IT Park and Commonwealth Games Village – on the Yamuna Flood Plain). For reducing withdrawal it only says, “Programmes for maximum use of treated waste water have been drawn up to prevent use of ground water for horticulture and other projects” (while also mentioning GNCTD projects like the Kisan Haat at Andheria Morh and Institute of Liver & Biliary Sciences at Vasant Kunj being / lately constructed with illegal ground water withdrawal), even as “Despite approving projects on waste water recycling in 1997, Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has not moved an inch on them. It had planned to recycle the water used in washing filters at its water treatment plants (WTPs) at Wazirabad, Bhagirathi, Haiderpur and Chandrawal”.5 Further, the budget speech announces, under Urban Development, an outlay of 35 cr for “a new measure for targeted urban renewal to upgrade water supply and sewage infrastructure” wherein MLAs will be able to recommend works up to 50 lakhs to DJB, at least some of which “works” can be reasonably expected to be digging of tube-wells to “solve” the water problem that is bound to arise from unplanned development consequent to unfettered infrastructure investments.
Consider Transport, the gravy trail that GNCTD calls “development”, spending on it a whopping 43% of the additional and 27% of the total outlay and 16 paragraphs in the budget speech, all way more than any other sector. The budget speech has a long list of projects, prefaced with the claim that “the Annual Plan 2005-06 will prove to be the year of landmark achievements in the field of improvement in the public transport system in Delhi”. Whether or not the sum of ad-hoc parts will efficiently or otherwise add up to an improved whole is an open question, especially considering that “The Delhi government feels an Integrated Metropolitan Transport Authority (IMTA) is not very relevant. The latest deadline for IMTA was this February and it was to function as an umbrella organisation involving heads of various agencies like MCD, NDMC, DDA, DMRC, DTC, Northern Railways, transport department, traffic police and service providers like DJB… ‘‘There is no need for IMTA because the Delhi Transport Planning Committee is serving the purpose,’’ says Transport Minister Haroon Yusuf”.6 It is however, rather obvious by now that all this exuberance is not transporting us to traffic-problem-freedom and far from improving public transport is promoting private vehicle ownership and otherwise playing havoc with the environment with demolition of plantations, deleterious implications for ground water, detriment to built heritage,7 etc.
Delhi Transport Minister who expressed confidence in Delhi Transport Planning Committee had lately also “expressed confidence that the DTC will fulfil Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s dream of an inspiring public transport system” and requested CM for a budgetary provision “to take care of the Rs 100 crore loss being forced on DTC because of concessional passes” to which CM had said, “We definitely do not want DTC to run losses specially when it has done so well after the MoU was signed between DTC and its depot managers. We will try very soon to shift the burden to the Social Welfare Department as suggested by the transport department”.8 The budget speech does not explicitly mention the shift of burden to the meagrely endowed Social Welfare department, but has 3 paragraphs on GNCTD’s measures to improve DTC performance. It says, “Performance parameters have been bench marked by the management for all the Depots and they are now expected to function as individual profit centres. Commercial activities like (a) parking of vehicles in DTC depots during day time, (b) Renting of DTC Depot space to other Governmental Departments and (c) Commercial exploitation of DTC terminals are being contemplated to minimize the operational losses of DTC”. Indeed, commercial exploitation of realty potential at transport terminals / stations (or, for that matter of properties of the erstwhile DVB and those of DJB lately inventorised) – justified in name of recovering development or operational costs – is central to this inefficient model of infrastructure development. In case of transport it reverses the logic of synthesising land use and transport decisions and can reduce so-called improvements to zero-sum games by adding as much traffic stress as was to be relieved. In terms of Delhi Master Plan, such commercial exploitation is also illegal.
Ironically, the only reference in the budget speech to Delhi Master Plan, the statutory framework for planned development of Delhi, is to “Master Plan road over disused canal from Geeta Colony to Karkardooma” on which construction work has been started as part of Trans Yamuna “development” in general and projects connected with a new bridge from Shantivan (where slums were cleared in March-May 2004 and religious structures in December 2004) to Geeta Colony (near Shastri Park IT Park) in particular. On the other hand, the budget speech is generously peppered with proposals in violation of Delhi Master Plan, ie, illegal in terms of Delhi Development Act, eg, processing of regularization applications invited from RWAs in unauthorised colonies (para-46, since regularization per-se is not permissible, as settled by Supreme Court in the matter of industries), NGO training of slum dwellers to form multi-purpose cooperatives for in-situ flats (para-47, since in-situ flats on slum sites are grossly illegal in terms of various Master Plan provisions), GNCTD Institute of Liver & Biliary Sciences at Vasant Kunj (para-63, under construction in Green Belt with illegal boring despite notice being issued in PIL), 202 NGOs running 3345 Learning Centres (para-70, since the Master Plan has adequate provisions for equal neighbourhood schooling for all and illegal recommendations / permissions by GNCTD to private schools getting in the way of these await rectification by order of court), farmer’s haat at Andheria Morh inaugurated on 22.02.2005 by CM (para-86, in area protected as Mehrauli ridge under the Master Plan, inaugurated despite being sub-judice), projects/schemes of Rural Development Board (para-87, since the Master Plan has explicit provisions for rural and urban villages and the newly constituted Board has no constitutional status),9 IT Park being constructed on the riverbed (para-88, in gross Master Plan violation and in contravention also of the draft NCR Plan 2021 that was recently put to Public Notice), developed and proposed industrial estates (para-91, sub-standard in terms of Master Plan provisions for industrial space), GNCTD staff housing in Vasant Kunj (para-92, since Vasant Kunj has backlog only of EWS plots as per Master Plan standards, as noted also in interim court orders), etc.
It is noteworthy that these illegal proposals disregard objections raised through constitutional processes like court matters and responses to statutory Public Notice. They also disregard the Public Notice process underway for Delhi Master Plan 2021. The massive investments being pumped into transport infrastructure, seemingly vetted only by some Delhi Transport Planning Committee that is guided by CM’s dreams, substantively modify the Master Plan framework without mandatory Public Notice process for public scrutiny and comment. This is the only lawful and equal processes for citizens’ participation in decisions about planned development of Delhi and it is in the context of GNCTD’s contempt of it that one must evaluate its Finance Minister’s claim at the end of Part-A of his budget speech that “ours is a Government of the people, by the people and for the people. All our programmes and schemes have an element of the active involvement and participation of citizens, in both, reflecting the needs and aspirations of the people in designing the schemes and, scrutiny and monitoring of their implementation. The concept of Bhagidari showcases our philosophy of governance, which is our belief that Government must be responsive and participative. In keeping with our philosophy, we have adopted an innovative approach to governance by involving all the stakeholders i.e. Residential Welfare Associations, Rural Groups, Market & Traders Associations, Industrial Associations and NGOs, etc., as the new collective actors and partners in implementing our schemes. This effort of ours in attempting to solve problems together by involving people in various activities of governance has indeed led to a feeling of the collective ownership of the problems and achievements of the city and designing of effective solutions”. The fact that the “concept of Bhagidari” has failed in four years to mature into any systematic, forget statutory or constitutional, process makes it highly suspect and there is sufficient grounds to posit that it is a highly centralised and deeply divisive extra-constitutional scheme designed to serve all manners of vested interests, including by implementation of unlawful, inefficient and inequitable schemes that are not only short of but also subverting statutory solutions to city problems. The Annual Plan for 2005-06 does not bother to address the growing reservations about GNCTD’s Bhagidari scheme, expressed also in the current Assembly session, 10 and merely re-trumpets it as some sort of implicit justification of highest percentage increase in outlay on “Co-operation” as well as of routing of bulk of meagre outlays for Welfare and other non-Infrastructure sectors through NGOs, RWAs, etc.
Among striking omissions in the GNCTD Annual Plan are any measures for securing the statutory solution to the slum problem through implementation of mandatory EWS housing provisions of the Master Plan as per the recommendations of Planning Commission report on the problem of slums in Delhi (prepared with GNCTD), the statutory solution to the hawking problem through an action plan for implementing the mandatory provisions of the Master Plan for planned space for small trade in markets, etc, as per Central Vigilance Commission reference to GNCTD, the statutory solution to the problem of unequal education by rectification of illegalities (mostly by way of illegal GNCTD policies) getting in the way of mandatory Master Plan provisions for equal access neighbourhood school system / common school system as per High Court order, the statutory solution for problems of urban villages through implementation of mandatory Master Plan provisions for their integration as sought in PIL in which GNCTD is a respondent, etc. These statutory solutions are pre-required for conflict-free pursuit of any world-class vision of Delhi and are, in any case, imperatives of law and of constitutional safeguards against violation of law and perhaps also of good governance (since the references from Commissions and Courts in their support arise from efforts of citizens’ groups informed by qualified professionals) and of good politics (since they are consonant with what the Congress-led UPA government at the centre has acknowledged as its mandate and since GNCTD has no constitutional jurisdiction over the planned development of Delhi outside the ambit of its role under the central Delhi Development Act).
Under the Congress-led UPA Government, Planning Commission has approved GNCTD’s Annual Plan for 2005-06 that is wholly unmindful and largely violative of Delhi Development Act, an Act of Parliament, and is no different from GNCTD’s Annual Plan for 2004-05 approved under the BJP-led NDA Government.
And Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has claimed that Government of India had written to the other States to emulate her Bhagidari model 11 and, apropos the urban development proposals in Central Government’s budget 2005-06, that “The boost to urban infrastructure has come through after we impressed the finance ministry and Planning Commission during several discussions in the past five months”.12
Maybe I am over-reacting. What if I am not?
- 1. Green crusaders chart post-budget line-up, Times of India, 24/03/2005 > see
- 2. Environment panel finally gets Government's nod, The Hindu, 26/03/2005 > see
- 3. Delhi's water dreams turning sour, The Hindu, 24/03/2005 > see
- 4. Mukhi accuses Sheila of misleading citizens, The Hindu, 25/03/2005 > see
- 5. City's great water dream lost in files, Times of India, 26/03/2005 > see
- 6. Integrated transport body hangs fire, Express Newsline, 01/03/2005 > see
- 7. Overground Metro Rail track worries ASI, The Hindu, 24/03/2005 > see
- 8. Transport minister seeks Dikshit’s help for DTC revival, Express Newsline, 01/03/2005 > see
- 9. Define Rural Development Board status, Express Newsline, 22/03/2005 > see
- 10. No takers for CM’s Bhagidari, Express Newsline, 19/03/2005 > see
- 11. No money given to RWAs, asserts Sheila, The Hindu, 19/03/2005 > see
- 12. Delhi eyes Centre’s urban renewal pie, Express Newsline, 01/03/2005 > see