Sheila Dikshit chat
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Sheila Dikshit chat

Interact with Sheila Dikshit, Delhi's Chief Minister. Known for her people friendly policies, she has led the way to major changes, be it the Bhagidari concept, the CNG implementation, or tackling water and power issues. She just dealt with the closure of the Upper Ganga Canal and its fallout. In a chat she talks of these and other issues. Read transcript of a chat on June 16.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2003 16:32 IST

rbhatna1: Everyone knows that the proliferation of boring wells in Delhi has lowered the water table with disastrous ecological effect in the area. However, people need water 24 hours a day and the government is unable to provide this. It is a vicious circle. What is the government planning to do in terms of 'quick wins' to alleviate this problem?

Sheila Dikshit: You'd be surprised to know that the city of Delhi has the highest consumption and consequent availability of water compared to any other city in the country. It is also one of the highest consumers per capita of water in the world. But, as of today, there is a requirement of 828 million gallons per day (mgd) and we are able to provide 670 mgd. This indicates a shortfall.

Now it can be made up by a more equitable distribution by bridging the gap between those who get too much and those that hardly get anything at all. For instance, people living in Lutyen's Delhi consume as much as 325 plus litres per capita per day, as compared to 32 litres of water per capita per day of people living in peripheral areas!

Apart from this, leakages amount to around 40percent! Therefore, with distribution becoming more equitable and by plugging leakages, we may not be able to have 24-hour water, but we surely will have enough so that people in Delhi do not feel the pinch.

Major (Retd) Virendra Sharma: I had lived in Delhi for about 25 years. I have now settled for last six years in New Zealand. In my opinion water problem in Delhi is not un-surmountable. If your government is able to link water supply to whole city then all areas can have 5-6 hours of supply. Secondly, like power you should privatise water as well. Its a known fact that people in government services take their jobs for granted and do not do their work accordingly.

Sheila Dikshit: You are absolutely right! We need to more responsive, certainly more efficient, and also, develop the habit amongst citizens, of conserving water. We have declared this year as the year of conservation of water, and we are educating people, how not to use treated drinking water for cleaning their cars, or washing their driveways, or letting taps run unnecessarily, etc.

I do believe that this involvement along with awareness amongst our citizens of Delhi, through our government's concepts of 'Bhagidari', which is governance in partnership with people, could lead to saving of water and water saved will also mean that much more water available.

Since you are away from India, I will also like to tell you that our problem is also migration of 400,000 people per year, who also need civic services. This is enormous challenge.

ronita: A lot of people compare you to the great Indira Gandhi. How do you feel when you get a compliment like that?

Sheila Dikshit
: I feel very complimented! But, at the same time, I know that I do not deserve it.

gomber: What are your plans for Delhi to emerge as a hot destination for investment competing with cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad which are going out of their way by issuing fast clearances. Also, are you considering any IT parks like ITPL in Bangalore which have been very successful?

Sheila Dikshit: I must admit that Delhi is not particularly concentrating on inviting investments in IT industry, because it is the capital of our country and it does not have the kind of land which other larger states have for the development of big industries.

But we do need development of infrastructure, and for that, we would like to invite interests, though we are endeavoring to become self-sufficient in providing infrastructure through our own resources to the people of Delhi.

But what we really need is techniques for the management of waste and also high-capacity electric buses, so that the pollution can be minimized and the transport can be smoother.

We are putting in place the Delhi metro, with Japanese funds and technical know-how from Japan, Korea and Germany. I am proud to state that the project has been engineered and implemented by Indians. It's the pride of Delhi.

We are also endeavoring to make Delhi an IT-user city, so that it becomes the first city of the country, where we shall have e-citizens, and whose governance is done through e-governance.

ajitsupeyia: If you can reduce corruption many problems will be solved?

Sheila Dikshit
: I couldn't agree with you more. There are two reasons for corruption. One is secrecy and the other is shortages. To overcome secrecy, we have already passed a Right to Information bill. Any citizen has the right to information and we are trying to implement it through the Internet.

This right to information no officer can refuse. The officer has to give information within a time span. If he exceeds that time span, he can be fined upto Rs 50 a day.

The other thing that causes corruption is shortages. For example, previously there was a huge blackmarket for connection of phones, or for purchase of cars - which is not there now. Once you bring in an open government, which is not unknown to everybody, you move out of corruption.

We are bringing Delhi out of the path of corruption. We want to bring it to a point where one does not have to pay for 'minimum rights' - such as house tax, birth certificate, etc.

For example, we started the unit area system for self-assessment for the citizens of Delhi. I think this will end a lot of 'Inspector Raj'. The bill has already been passed. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) is in process of bringing out the rates and implement it.

I think this will be another area where corruption will not exist.

rbhatna1: But what are you doing to prevent this 40 percent leakage? And if we cannot look forward to 24 hours water supply, can you commit to the people that we will be able to look forward to an 'X' amount of water supply per day?

Sheila Dikshit: In the last four months, we stopped water leakage and were able to produce 10 million gallons per day more of water. So we are going about it very seriously. We've got a 24-hour grievance cell to enable citizens to report leakage. We are going to get 140 million gallons of water per day at Sonia Vihar water treatment plant in East Delhi, which will be ready by November-December next year. It will be additional to 670 million gallons we already supply. The water will be brought in from Uttaranchal. By next summer, (March/April), everyone's taps will have more water.

We have also started work on a cemented (lined) canal for dedicated water to Delhi via Haryana, which will bring another 90 million gallons of water.

veekaydee: Are you going to introduce the concept of segregation of garbage (into bio-degradable and non bio-degradable) at source? Like giving instructions to all households to put glass/paper/recycled plastic in different sacks?

Sheila Dikshit: It's difficult to issue instructions in such case, but it's a movement that we have to start. It's started in some colonies in which Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) are in the Bhagidari network. A lot of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are working in this area in order to do it at the household level.

It needs to spread in more area especially in slum areas where the problem is acute. We have already brought in bins with two segments - biodegradable and non-biodegradable.

I hope the residents will get aware and take it on. For example, in Nizamuddin (East) where I have a flat it's been there for 10 years.

We hope like our success against the use of coloured plastics we will be successful here too.

prateek911: At the police station what can a citizen do if a policeman asks for bribe?

Sheila Dikshit: Do not give bribe at all. I know that there are so many difficult circumstances, but I think we have to develop a resistance to the easy way out if you want the corruption to go. Corruption is a two-way process. There has to be a giver and a taker.

It's part of a culture. Shortage and secrecy bring in more corruption.

minu2005: I would like to know if CAS is helpful to consumers in any way?

Sheila Dikshit: Technologically, perhaps it is. It's considered a better system. My objection is to the way it is implemented. It is a kind of a forced demand being made on the consumer.

One does not know the cost and benefits that one will get. Sometimes it's bouquet of these many channels with this much money.

The government has said that by July 14, six million pieces will be brought from outside the country. This does not give a good feeling. Is the technology the best, one is tempted to ask? There is talk of DTH coming in soon. If that's going to come in then the government should wait till DTH comes in.

My point all along has been not been who is going to benefit (the television channel, cable operator, etc). As a consumer, I would like to know how much will I get for what I pay? I would like to know where I could buy the box from? They say that you can buy it from your cablewala. But I would like go to the market and buy it like any other product? Because the cable operator in Delhi is not a very popular person!

vivekhare: All drivers of DTC and Blueline buses flout rules and park their buses for picking passengers in the middle of the road, causing accidents. Can the same be checked immediately?

Sheila Dikshit: Yes. It's a very good observation. We need to get better drivers. But I must add the DTC drivers are much better trained than Bluelined ones. We are working to bring in co-operatives and corporations other than DTC because Bluelines listen to no rules.

We are asking private people to come to us to set up institutes. We have set up a school in Loni alongwith Maruti but capacity is limited.

We are going to phase the Blueline system out. We are planning to bring in corporations that manage a fleet of 50 plus buses rather than the 2-3 buses system currently being followed by Blueline operators. We are not bringing in more Bluelines.

sunny24: Can you address the issue of unequal distribution of water in different parts of Delhi?

Sheila Dikshit: As I said, there is so much proliferation of Delhi. Like migration into the city. They just come and demand for basic services. That stretches the system very alarmingly. DDA's planning is bad. Take the example of Dwarka. The colony was set up without taking in account where the power and water status. You will find that 80 percent of flats are lying empty.

DDA, by the way, does not come under us. It is under the Ministry of Urban Development, Central Government.

smita: I think you are a role model for our other politicians vis-a-vis how you dress. How did you develop such a keen sense of dressing?

Sheila Dikshit: It's a very difficult question to answer. I can just assure you that I have not gone to any school or any such thing.

Gupta: The condition of road from Kirbi place to Dhaula Kaun is so pathetic it is difficult to express. The main traffic of West Delhi goes via this road. You are requested to look into this.

Sheila Dikshit: The Dhaula Kaun flyover will be ready by September/October and then I hope the Cantonment Board will spend money on this stretch from Kirbi Place to Dhaula Kuan. I think they are hesitant because of the heavy traffic and the uprooting which is taking place. I think they should be able to do this immediately after September/October.

jagdevsingh: India has made excellent economic progress during the last 12 years through economic reforms. How come there are no reforms or privitisation taking place in the municipalities? Why not privatised transport system?

Sheila Dikshit: Yes, I agree that selectively privatization should take place in municipalities. I should warn that the privatization across the board can not be considered an answer to good administration. Private systems, motivated by profit, are not always the best. I think it should be done selectively - say picking of garbage, construction of roads, etc. The decision of which roads to construct and maintain should be given by municipality though.

Democratically elected governance has to remain responsible. They have to go back and seek the mandate. Private organizations are governed by profit and not service.

jagdevsingh: London, Sydney, Moscow and many more cities are all located alongside rivers as our Delhi is. While their rivers are so beautiful why is our Yamuna a drain? Where has the Rs 800 crore gone which has been invested to clean Yamuna?

Sheila Dikshit: Yes, you are right. All great cities are along the rivers. Yamuna is not something to be proud of. Money spent on it is not visible right now. Cleaning a river, for which the source is not the concerned city, is not easy. The effluents are carried on from upstream.

The federal structure of governance in India means all states have a say in a said topic. So even if there's water logging in Punjab, the government there will not release the water. We are concerned about Yamuna turning into a drain. We had a discussion with the Prime Minister today about converging various activities into a Yamuna Action Plan committee. Unless we all get together and work together, the money will keep going down the 'drain'.

amit_goel: I would like to draw your attention towards the unauthorised colonies in Delhi especially next to railway station. It is an embarrassment particularly when one is travelling with foreign clients.

Sheila Dikshit: Unauthorized colonies are a peculiar problem in Delhi and that is so because the governments before did not think in terms of low-cost housing for low-class society.

Some land mafia sells those who are looking for low-cost housing and an unauthorized colony comes up. People invest in them both knowingly and unknowingly. I think the Government of India does not have will to stop in. There is no place for people who serve Delhi.

We are bringing out a white paper on upgradation of Juggi Jhopdi (JJ) colonies. We need to look into that. What will happen to those who service the people of Delhi? We have to recognize the existence of these unauthorized colonies. But my government, poor thing, doesn't even land with us. If we want to even construct a school, we have to buy the land from the DDA.

It was a great pleasure having you here! Will you like to leave a message for those who joined us today?
Sheila Dikshit
: First of all, thank you for chatting. I look forward to people of Delhi understanding what our problems are, but also appreciating with the smile, that we are living in the best city of the country. I think we need to do a lot but we are very lucky to be living here. So smile rather than crib. We are available, so is our government for anything. You can contact me at

First Published: Sep 03, 2003 16:32 IST