Delhi Finance Minister Kailash Gahlot on Wednesday presented a Rs 78,800-crore budget, giving a major push to transport and infrastructure with an allocation of Rs 21,817 crore ahead of the G20 Summit, and announced a comprehensive plan to make the capital a ‘clean, beautiful and modern city’.
IMAGE: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Delhi Finance Minister Kailash Gahlot arrive for the presentation of Delhi Budget for the financial year 2023-24, at Delhi Legislative Assembly, on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the budget has something for everyone and free schemes like bus ride for women, power subsidy and pilgrimage for senior citizens will continue in the next financial year as well.
However, the education and health sectors, two highest priority areas of the Aam Aadmi Party dispensation, have not seen a major hike.
The government has proposed Rs 9,742 crore for the health sector, a marginal decline, while in the last budget, it was Rs 9,769 crore.
The education department has been given Rs 16,575 crore. In the 2022-23 budget, it had the highest allocation of Rs 16,278 crore.
An outlay of Rs 9,337 crore in the transport sector has been proposed for the next financial year.
Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party dismissed the budget as ‘directionless’ and alleged that it is a bundle of lies and has only paper announcements.
In his 150-minute speech in the Delhi assembly, Gahlot said a comprehensive infrastructure rejuvenation project was being launched in a very significant year when Delhi will be hosting India’s first G20 summit.
The comprehensive plan includes beautification of 1,400-km roads maintained by PWD, construction of 26 flyovers and three double-decker flyovers, induction of 1,600 electric buses and electrification of all bus depots.
Also, the government has proposed to construct three world-class inter-state bus terminals, two multi-level bus depots, two modern bus terminals and nine new bus depots. As many as 1,400 new and modern bus queue shelters will also be built in the national capital.
Six-point action plan for a clean Yamuna and clearing all three garbage mountains of Delhi are also among the major schemes announced by the AAP government on Wednesday.
In the 2023-24 Budget, the government has set aside Rs 2,034 crore for the beautification and upgrade of PWD roads.
Gahlot announced that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi will be given Rs 8,241 crore in the financial year 2023-24, up from Rs 4,374 crore allocated during 2022-23.
He also said a loan of Rs 850 crore was earmarked for the civic body for the removal of mountains of garbage.
The government announced that it will set up 100 mohalla clinics. The number of free diagnostic tests in mohalla clinics will increase from 256 to 450 in the next financial year.
The Delhi government’s budget size for the financial year 2022-23 was Rs 75,800 crore and Rs 69,000 crore in the preceding year.
The 2023-24 budget is almost two and a half times the expenditure of Rs 30,940 crore in the year 2014-15, and 8.69 per cent higher than the revised estimates for 2022-23.
Addressing a post-budget press conference, Kejriwal that this is because Delhi has an honest government.
“Finally, the budget was presented today. It has something for everyone. We have so far invested heavily in the education, health and electricity sectors and this will continue. This budget focuses on a clean, beautiful and modern Delhi,” he said.
“We have achieved so much despite so many hurdles. This shows our excellent administrative skills. Delhi would have seen much more progress had it got full statehood,” the chief minister said.
The presentation of the budget was delayed by a day as the Centre sought clarifications, including ‘higher allocation’ for advertisements and ‘lower capital expenditure’ in the annual financial statement.
On Tuesday, the Union home ministry gave its approval to the budget even as Kejriwal alleged that the whole issue was created by the Centre to satisfy its ego.
The budget estimate of Rs 78,800 crore includes Rs 56,983 crore under revenue expenditure and an outlay of Rs 21,817 crore under capital expenditure.
Gahlot said the share of capital expenditure as part of the overall budget has also risen to 27.68 per cent in the budget.
The AAP government has earmarked Rs 557.2 crore for advertisements in the next financial year.
It has proposed Rs 320 crore for the construction of three double-decker flyovers, which will come up at Bhajanpura-Yamuna Vihar, Azadpur-Rani Jhansi intersections and Saket-Pul Prahaladpur.
Vehicles will run on the lower deck while the Metro rail will run on the upper deck.
“By the end of the year 2023, Delhi will have the largest fleet of electric buses among all the states of India. By the end of 2025, Delhi will have a fleet of 10,480 buses,” the finance minister said.
While announcing the Mohalla bus scheme for ensuring the last mile connectivity in the city, he said 100 feeder e-buses will be procured in 2023-24 while 2,180 in next two years.
All 57 bus depots in Delhi will be electrified by this year, he said, adding that the government will spend around Rs 1,500 crore on this.
The government will also develop a new world-class ISBT at Dwarka.
Talking about allocation for the education sector, Gahlot said the Delhi government will provide new tablets to all teachers, principals and vice-principals, besides setting up new computers in 350 schools.
He said more branches of the Ambedkar Schools of Specialised Education will come up in 2023. In 2021, there were 20 schools of specialised education, which will be increased to 37 in 2023.
He said that the dream of a clean and beautiful Delhi is incomplete without a clean and beautiful Yamuna.
“In the next year, we will rapidly expand the reach of the sewer network to all the colonies and JJ clusters of Delhi and upgrade the capacities of our sewage treatment plants on a war footing to achieve the vision of clean Yamuna,” he said.