Delhiites count takeaways of #EkSaalBeMisaal

Perhaps the boldest AAP government attempt to show that it cared for the aam aadmi has been slashing electricity charges by 50 per cent and providing 20 kilolitres free water a month to every household. This came about within days of the party coming to power in Delhi last year.

“Bijli and paani” have always remained one of the pivotal planks for the party on the basis of which it had first come to power in 2013-14. The party’s first stint at forming the government had lasted only 49 days.

After taking over office on February 14 last year, the AAP government knew what was expected of it. Delivering on its promises in less than two weeks of occupying office, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government announced 50 per cent cut in power tariff for households consuming up to 400 units per month and free water up to 20,000 litres per household every month.

Lakhs of consumers have been benefiting from the cheap power and free water supply since March 1, 2015.

The AAP government knew it had to walk a tightrope between giving subsidies to people and losing out on revenue. It put riders on the pocket-friendly bonanza too — those who consumed one unit of electricity over 400 units would pay the entire bill at the higher rate.

The same applied for free water supply — if a household consumed more than 20,000 litres of water, it would have to pay the total consumption for that month. This was also seen as a move to make Delhiites consume electricity and water judiciously.

The AAP government’s cheap power is being consumed by over 36 lakh consumers a month, covering 90 per cent of the total domestic sector in Delhi and 18 lakh families have been getting metered supply of free water scheme every month.

Opinion divided

“The middle class is the most affected by electricity and water supplies. If you give them uninterrupted supply of power and water, they will not complain about anything else,” says Sonal Shastri, a homemaker.

Some people say that the AAP has diverted from taking up people-centric issues to indulging in a political blame game. 

“The AAP government started off its second innings addressing people’s issues. But as the year passed, it digressed and started indulging in power politics,” says Yogesh Kothari, a retired government official.

The opposition parties found fault with such subsidies. The BJP slammed the city government for putting conditions on the offered subsidies and not providing cheap power and free water to all consumers, whether they had a meter or not – as promised by the AAP before the elections.

One of the biggest ‘achievements’ for the city government is the passing of Janlokpal Bill in Delhi Assembly — the issue that made the AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal to step down from the Chief Minister’s Office in 2014.

Another bold decision has been the implementation of the odd-even car curbs scheme in the city. Between January 1 to 15, private cars were allowed to ply on roads only if their number plates matched the odd or even date of the month. It drew mixed reactions with multiple PILs being filed against the scheme, but many welcoming the move as well.

The city government passed the Delhi (Right of Citizen to Time Bound Delivery of Services) Amendment Bill, 2015, in the Vidhan Sabha, which brings services under ‘Citizen Charter’. Now the government’s department will have to give services to citizens in a time-bound manner. In case of any delay beyond the given time-frame, the government will compensate them.

Some attempts have been made to improve the health service. The city government has made all medicines in the Essential Drug List available to patients at its hospitals and also doing away with charges for diagnostic services. These are the kind of initiatives for which the AAP has been highlighting through Twitter hashtag #EkSaalBeMisaal.

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