With no new schemes in the offing, no new infrastructure projects and no subsidies to tackle burgeoning electricity and water bills, the Sheila Dikshit government’s 15th budget read more like a statement of accounts this year.
Her announcements included construction of monorail, buying new buses, expansion of social welfare schemes and facilitating implementation of foreign direct investment in retail trade.
She announced more pension to senior citizens, new buildings for schools, better health care facilities and better housing for poor.
“This is the repeat of the last year. There is nothing new in the budget,” Vijay Kumar Malhotra, leader of opposition in Delhi Assembly, said.
Her budget speech, which lasted almost 90 minutes, recalled what the Congress government did in the past 15 years since it assumed power in 1998.
“The last decade and half has been a watershed in the history of Delhi and its growth into a world-class city. Be it infrastructure, transportation, social development, human resources development, services, environment or governance the gains made during the period 1999-2013 have been phenomenal and unprecedented,” Dikshit said.
Her comments evoked sharp reactions from the opposition. “There is no water in this world-class city,” BJP MLA Sat Prakash Rana said. The constant interruption forced speaker Yoganand Shastri to stop the chief minister midway and warned the MLAs from interrupting the speech.
With her eyes set on assembly elections later this year, Dikshit recounted how her government built wide, smooth and safe roads crisscrossing the city.
“Through the budget, the government plans various projects and schemes. Incidentally this is an election year,” Dikshit told reporters after presenting the budget in the assembly.
“More than 65 flyovers, more than 60 foot overbridges for pedestrian safety have been constructed. Water supply has increased from 591 MGD in 1998-99 to 850 MGD in 2012-203 and electricity distribution losses have been reduced from around 60% to 17%,” Dikshit said.
Several welfare schemes such as Ladli Yojana, Kishori Yojana, Bhagidari, and Kerosene-Free city found mention in her scheme.
Dikshit said her government had identified certain specific priority areas so that the city became more “productive and caring”.
“Nurture and enhance the green cover, construction of upstream reservoirs for augmentation of water supply, improvement in the availability of housing skill upgrade, strengthening service delivery and bring most government services within the ambit of the time-bound delivery system would be some of the focus areas,” she said.
The opposition, however, termed the budget misleading. “The budget speech of the chief minister is full of misleading and false data.
"It indicates that she has no interest left in Delhi. There was lack of advance thinking in it. Old projects have been repeated,” Vijay Goel, Delhi BJP President, said.
Senior BJP leader Vijender Gupta said the budget was simply a document presented by an ailing government on its last legs.
“The Budget is nothing but a new political gimmick being played with the Delhi Public for the last more than 14 years,” he said.