It is an election year and the slew of promises and sops being announced from Delhi Secretariat makes the government's intent very clear -- to win over a recalcitrant electorate irate over price rise and various other issues.
OBC quota at technical educations institutes: The cabinet announced OBC quota for all technical education institutes run by the state government. While Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit confirmed that the government had decided to introduce the quota from this academic year in principle, she said they were yet to decide on the modalities. "We are yet to decide whether we will take in 5 per cent or 7 per cent OBC students. We will have to look at our infrastructure. We cannot augment the facilities overnight. Eventually, the government wants 27 per cent quota, but for this year we have to decide the percentage," added Dikshit.
Dikshit made a number of announcements, most of them aimed at appeasing voters. Dikshit announced on Monday that the first lot of low-cost housing would be available to slum-dwellers within the next two months. The Bharatiya Janata Party has been targeting the Congress leadership for making "false promises to slum-dwellers", creating fissures in the ruling party's vote-bank.
Low-cost housing: In the first go, 10,000 living units, both single and double bedroom will be on offer. "These housing units are located in Bawana and Baproula and have been constructed by DSIDC. We are targeting those slum areas that need to be cleared first. The final modalities are being worked out. We will construct more as we go along," Dikshit told Hindustan Times.
Interestingly, the decision to provide these dwelling units was taken about six months back and the government had already received the go-ahead from the Centre to construct 60,000 such dwelling units. "We are finally deciding the application process and the system for allotting these flats. These flats will cost Rs 2.25 lakh, of which the government will pay Rs 1.25 lakh. The agency that owns the land being cleared will also pay the slum dwellers Rs 50,000. For the remaining Rs 50,000, we will arrange bank loans," said Raj Kumar Chauhan, Delhi Urban Development Minister.
Chauhan said the applications would be out in July-mid and would be sold for Rs 100 each. "There will be no registration charge. The ownership rights of the flat will be handed over to the parties concerned when they finish paying their loan installments. This is to prevent them from selling their subsidised flats and moving back to slums," he said.
Perks for magistrates, slash in entertainment tax: The government also announced several perks for serving magistrates in city courts. In a cabinet note, Dikshit proposed that the government pay some expenses towards footing telephone bills of these magistrates, as well as providing an allowance for maintaining a small office at their residences. "These are very small benefits that are meant to improve their functioning," said Dikshit. In a late evening meeting, the government also decided to slash entertainment tax charged from theatres, concerts, cultural and sporting events at a commercial scale from 30 per cent to 20 per cent.