New Delhi: On the first working day of his government, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet ordered steps to be taken towards the party’s poll promise of cheaper electricity and water and ordered a status quo on proposed demolitions of slums or residential premises.
Following the first cabinet meeting, the Delhi government directed the departments of finance and power to “immediately send their proposals for implementation of the election promises to slash electricity tariffs by 50 per cent till the audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of the private power companies (discoms) is completed, and also on the provision of lifeline water (up to 20,000 litres for every household per month)”.
In another decision, directions were issued to various government agencies to not carry out any demolitions of residential premises and slums. The government stated that it was taking a “holistic view” on the existing policy of carrying out demolitions of residential premises and jhuggis and that no agency must carry out any demolition until the policy review is completed.
The directions were issued to agencies including the New Delhi Municipal Council, East, South and North municipal corporations, Delhi Jal Board, environment and forests department and the revenue department. “In case any demolition has already been planned or are in the pipeline, the agency concerned shall seek prior approval of the urban development minister,” the government directed. The urban development portfolio has been assigned to deputy CM Manish Sisodia.
The government, however, clarified that its order shall not apply to action taken in pursuance to a court order.
The Delhi government also announced that the cabinet had decided to recommend the first session of the newly elected Delhi Assembly on February 23 and 24 for the swearing-in of MLAs and election of the speaker and his deputy.
Meanwhile, Delhi’s home minister, Jitender Singh Tomar, said he would soon begin work with the Home Guard to ensure the AAP promise of setting up the Mahila Suraksha Dal — a women’s security force made up of a 10,000 home guards who currently work as help at the residence of senior officers and ministers.
AAP will also deploy 5,000 bus marshals to prevent and deter crime on public transport. A senior official said that posting of home guards on buses is likely to be discussed in the subsequent meetings with the minister.
Delhi has a total of 5,500 home guards and approximately 2,500 are on extension beyond five years. Home Guards chief J K Sharma said the department will need to recruit home personnel if they need to be deployed for women’s security. “In February next year around 25,00 home guards will be due for retirement,” he said.