Delhi's 9th Budget Unveiled - Promises, Allocations, And Misleading Claims

Delhi's Ninth Budget Unveiled — Promises, Allocations, And Misleading Claims

by Aaina - Thursday, March 23, 2023 11:44 AM IST
Delhi's Ninth Budget Unveiled — Promises, Allocations, And Misleading ClaimsDelhi's Finance Minister, Kailash Gahlot and Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal on budget day. (Image via Twitter).
  • The AAP government's ninth budget, while claiming to invest in various sectors, falls short in numerous aspects.

The AAP-led Delhi government presented its ninth budget, with Kailash Gahlot replacing former finance minister Manish Sisodia, who is currently lodged in jail on charges of corruption.

Amid claims of heavy investment in health, education, infrastructure, our analysis unveils the inconsistencies and unfulfilled promises hidden in the budget. Let's delve into the details.

1. An Imbalance Between Short-term And Long-term Priorities

In the Delhi budget's total estimated outlay of Rs 78,800 crore, a mere Rs 21,817 crore (or 27 per cent) is allocated for capital expenditure, while the remaining Rs 56,983 crore is earmarked for revenue expenditure.

The latter category covers expenses such as salaries, pensions, interest payments, subsidies, and even advertising spend, which the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) claims to be around Rs 550 crore, the same as last year.

Capital expenditure is crucial for the creation of assets, encompassing expenditures on the construction of schools, hospitals, roads, and other essential infrastructure. These allocations play a vital role in addressing the needs of a growing city.

However, the AAP's focus on subsidies for water and power bills has diminished the potential for spending on long-term assets, revealing a disproportionate allocation between revenue and capital expenditures that are hindering Delhi's development.

2. Healthcare: Shrinking Budget And Unfulfilled Promises

While Gahlot announced plans to open 100 Mahila Mohalla Clinics and construct nine new hospitals in the city, the health budget has actually shrunk from Rs 10,446 crore in 2021-22 to Rs 9,742 crore in 2023-24.

This decrease occurs even as the total budget outlay has reached a record high of Rs 78,800 crore.

Despite the government's claims of expanding healthcare facilities, the budget fails to address the slow implementation of flagship schemes such as mohalla clinics or absence of any new health infrastructure.

3. Infrastructure: Misleading Claims and Delayed Projects

Gahlot claimed that the government has saved money on infrastructure projects; however, these claims are contradicted by project delays and cost escalations.

The budget allocates only Rs 2,034 crore for infrastructure projects in 2023-24, which is insufficient to address the city's needs.

Additionally, most of the G-20 summit-related projects announced — including road network upgrades, the construction of 26 flyovers, and three double-decker flyovers — will not be completed within the six-month timeframe.

For instance, Kejriwal himself stated that landfill sites would be cleared by 2024 and the Yamuna cleaned by 2025, well beyond the G-20 summit timeline.

4. Transport: Outdated Fleet And Losses

Gahlot boasted about the increased number of buses in the city, but the reality is that the DTC fleet is outdated, with the corporation incurring yearly losses of over Rs 2,000 crore.

Furthermore, the budget fails to provide a comprehensive plan to modernize and expand the city's public transportation system. It says that the government would increase the E-buses. But is silent on when the target of 1,600 buses would be achieved.

Most of the E-buses, currently plying on Delhi roads, have been provided by the Central government under FAME India Phase II scheme of the Ministry of Heavy Industries.

5. Education: Marginal Increases And Elitist Approach

Despite claims of heavy investment in education, the budget has only seen a marginal increase of nearly Rs 200 crore. The specialized schools of excellence (SSEs) are a prime example of an elitist approach, as they focus on the brightest students while ignoring the needs of the majority.

Gahlot said that they plan to increase the number of SSEs from 20 to 37. However, the increase does not mean more schools in the capital. Already existing schools would be turned into SSEs.

While the budget announces plans to provide 20 computers to 350 government schools (out of more than 1,000 schools) and tablets for teachers, principals, and vice-principals, it lacks any significant announcements for the education sector as a whole.

6. Landfill Sites: Putting AAP's Label On Centre's Work

The Finance Minister claimed that the AAP government stands with the MCD to clear landfill sites, offering a "loan" of over Rs 800 crore for the project.

However, work on the landfill sites was already underway before this announcement.

In 2019, the legacy waste in Delhi’s three landfill sites (Ghazipur, Bhalswa, and Okhla) was 280 Lakh MT. By September 2022, it had reduced to 203 Lakh MT, thanks to an increased rate of waste disposal between June and September 2022.

The Delhi Lt. Governor had set the target of completely removing the legacy waste by April 2024, which CM Arvind Kejriwal is now claiming as his own, following AAP's victory in the MCD elections.

Moreover, back in 2022, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) took a significant step towards addressing the issue of landfill waste in Delhi.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari directed the NHAI to lift and utilize the entire inert material from the three landfill sites in the city, in addition to the 20 lakh tonnes it had already committed to using.

The inert materials, which are non-reactive and non-hazardous, is being used for road construction activities under the NHAI's purview.

7. Centre's Allocation: Misleading Comparison

Gahlot rued the Centre's allocation out of central taxes amounts to only Rs 325 crore to Delhi, but this claim is misleading, as the Centre pays for the capital's police, roads, metro and other infrastructural needs.

In December 2022, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari allocated Rs 700 crore from the central road budget for Delhi's roads, directing NHAI to bear the cost of repairing and beautifying roads in the city.

Gadkari also instructed NHAI to cover the expenses incurred in upgrading the stretch of road between Mahipalpur (IGI airport) and Dhaula Kuan, a project being undertaken in mission mode under the direct supervision of the Lt. Governor (L-G) of Delhi, V.K. Saxena.

The AAP government's ninth budget, while claiming to invest in various sectors, falls short in numerous aspects.

A closer look reveals a shrinking health budget, delayed infrastructure projects, an outdated transportation system, an elitist approach to education, and misleading claims regarding clearing of landfill sites.

Join our Telegram channel - no spam or links, only crisp analysis.
Get Swarajya in your inbox everyday. Subscribe here.

An Appeal...

Dear Reader,

As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.

Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.

We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.

Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.

Become A Patron
Become A Subscriber
Comments ↓
Get Swarajya in your inbox everyday. Subscribe here.

Latest Articles

    Artboard 4Created with Sketch.