New Delhi: Delhi Finance Minister Kailash Gahlot presented a Rs 78,800 crore Budget for 2023-24 on Wednesday, informing the House that the financial document was dedicated to “a clean, beautiful and modern Delhi”.
At the outset, Gahlot said he would have been happier if Manish Sisodia presented the Budget, as he was “like an elder brother to me”. “I am sure the best wishes of children all over the world are with Manish Sisodia,” Gahlot said of the former Delhi deputy chief minister, who also held the finance and the education portfolio.
Gahlot was given charge of the finance department after Sisodia resigned from all posts, following his arrest in the Delhi liquor policy scam.
Before the Budget was presented in the Assembly, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the work started by the former minister would be carried out at double speed.
Presenting the AAP government’s 9th Budget and his first, Gahlot said every possible help would be given to the civic body to remove three mountains of garbage in the capital.
“We will connect all colonies to the sewer network, increase capacities of sewage treatment plants to clean the Yamuna,” Gahlot stressed.
He also said 29 new flyovers were being constructed in the capital and 1,900 e-buses would be inducted by the end of 2023.
He said the Metro network had doubled between 2015 and 2023. “Today, the number of buses has increased to 7,379, which is the highest. The government has made Delhi a city of tricolours. This Budget is important for Delhi as we are hosting the G20. So, this Budget is dedicated to a clean, beautiful and modern Delhi,” he said.
Gahlot also said the government had proved its commitment to “zero tolerance towards corruption through doorstep delivery of services”.
Gahlot announced the electrification of 57 existing bus depots, the construction of nine new bus depots, three ISBTs, and two multi-level bus depots in the capital.
He said a six-point action plan for a clean Yamuna was in place, and that local bodies would be given financial assistance of Rs 8,241 crore in 2023-24.
Gahlot said the government would upgrade the 1,400-km PWD road network, and construct three unique double-decker flyovers in collaboration with DMRC.
The minister also announced a “Mohalla Bus Scheme” for last-mile connectivity, and earmarked Rs 3,500 crore for the upgradation of public transport in 2023-24.
Gahlot lamented that the Centre had allocated only Rs 325 crore to Delhi as its share in central taxes.
The Delhi Budget was presented a day late after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) objected to certain allocations in the Budget when it went for approval.
MHA sources said Monday that the ministry sought clarification from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government as its Budget apparently had a high outlay for advertisements than infrastructure and other development initiatives.
To this objection, Kejriwal had retorted in the Assembly Monday, “In the Budget, Rs 20,000 crore was allocated for infrastructure, Rs 500 crore for advertisement. We never heard that 500 is more than 20,000… They have kept a group of uneducated people from top to bottom.”
The chief minister also said he wanted to work and not fight, because it serves no one. “Delhi would have seen ten times more progress had there been no tussle,” he said, adding, “If PM Modi wishes to win Delhi, he will have to win the hearts of the city’s people first.”
The government has allocated Rs 16,575 crore for education in the financial year 2023-24, Gahlot said, adding, “350 Delhi government schools will get 20 computers each… all teachers, principals, vice-principals will get tablets.”
The Budget also allocated Rs 9,742 crore for the health sector — a marginal decrease from Rs 9,769 crore last year.
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