Now-forgotten scheme’s beneficiaries recall Sheila Dikshit
B S Vohra, president, federation of east Delhi RWAs said, “She had empowered the institution of RWAs and given a voice to those who were governed.”Updated: Jul 22, 2019 01:29 IST
D M Narang, at his New Rajendra Nagar house, recollects when he first represented the residents’ welfare association (RWA) in then chief minister Sheila Dikshit’s Bhagidari scheme — the first initiative that made RWAs in the city part of local governance.
“It was the first time when RWAs were given official recognition by the city government. At that time the Delhi Vidyut Board, state power distributor, was a major problem with residents facing eight-hour-long power cuts. The RWAs passed a unanimous resolution against the Board that was accepted by the CM,” said Narang, a chartered accountant by profession and president, R Block Welfare Association that exists since 1956. He was one of the twenty core group members representing residents’ welfare associations from across the city.
The scheme was one of the most popular initiatives launched by Dikshit’s government that involved people at the grassroots level in the decision-making process.
Sub divisional magistrates would meet RWAs regularly and monthly meetings were held, which were chaired by the CM either in person or through video-conferencing. People could discuss problems related to overflowing sewers, inflated power bills and water problems. An annual budget was allotted to every district for carrying out development work under the scheme.
However, with the decline of the Congress regime, the scheme too lost its edge.
The Bhagidari office located at seventh floor of the Delhi Secretariat has been shut since the Congress lost power in Delhi, Narang said. “The trend has died. There is no such representation of RWAs within the government system at present,” said Narang.
One of the city’s largest federations with 2,500 RWAs under its umbrella, URJA (United Residents Joint Action) was constituted under the Bhagidari scheme. The residents’ body has planned to hold a large-scale condolence meet to pay tribute to the former CM later this week.
“We were inspired to come together as a residents’ body because of the scheme. We had district levels meetings with respective SDMs and a budget was passed. The expenditure was then made by the government on the works approved. None of this exists now,” said Atul Goyal, president, URJA, adding, “She would give us suggestions to resolve local issues and would listen intently. It is not usual for a CM to do this.”
The late former CM had last addressed a convention of RWAs in 2013 at Thyagraj Stadium when Assembly elections were just around the corner. “I remember meeting ma’am (Dikshit) at the event. At the time of seeing her off, as she took the elevator, I raised some issues that could not be addressed as promised and she responded with great humour and invited me over at her residence. She could win over her greatest critics by her wit and humour,” said Sandeep Bali, president, Mehrauli RWA.
Others too feel that the RWA movement is over. B S Vohra, president, federation of east Delhi RWAs said, “She had empowered the institution of RWAs and given a voice to those who were governed.”