Delhi Budget 2008-09 gets nod of Legislative Assembly

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New Delhi, March 27 (UNI) Delhi Finance Minister A K Walia today said the Delhi Budget for 2008-09 will accelerate the pace of development and enhance coverage of welfare programmes launched by the city-government.

Replying to a debate on the budget, which was later approved in the House by voice vote, Dr Walia dismissed all allegations levelled by Leader of the Opposition Jagdish Mukhi.

Dr Walia said with the increase of the Old Age Pension from Rs 600 to Rs 1000 per month in the Budget, Delhi would be offering the highest Old Age Pension in the country.

All eligible elders in the family will be getting the Old Age Pension, he said.

Dr Walia said the Delhi Government's welfare schemes have earned recognition at the national level as it Ladli initiative was also adopted by the Union Government.

Delhi's plan outlay has increased from Rs. 2233 crore in 1999-2000, to Rs 10,000 crore in 2008-09, which is a hike by four and half times whereas the earlier government was able to increase it from Rs 1144 crore in 1994-95 to Rs 2014 crore in 1998-99 which shows increase by 1.76 times.

''Delhi's plan outlay is higher than that of Haryana, Punjab, Jharkhand, Kerala, Orissa and closer to that of West Bengal. During 1993-98, only 542 beds in government hospitals were added whereas during the last eight years, 2126 beds were added. Our government has opened 15 new hospitals after 1999. Two super-speciality hospitals would be commissioned in the current year,''Dr Walia said.

He said the Delhi Government had taken a bold step to enhance its own power generation.

''The Prime Minister has laid foundation stone of 1500 MW gas based power plant at Bawana. The city is now reaping benefits of privatisation of power,'' Dr Walia said, and refuting charges of opposition members about less provision of funds next year under the energy sector.

He stated that after privatisation of electricity distribution the expenditure on 66 KV, 33 KV and 11 KV works is being borne by the power distribution companies.

''Our government has opened 39 schools during 1999-2007 apart from this, pass percentage in CBSE results in government schools has increased from 32.10 per cent to 77.12 per cent in the secondary class and from 63.45 per cent to 82.7 per cent in senior secondary class.'' Two new universities are being commissioned to take care of higher education in the city. ''Our government has initiated an ambitious plan of construction of one lakh low-cost houses,'' the Minister said.

Refuting allegations of increase in prices of essential commodities in Delhi, Dr Walia quoted statistics of National Labour Bureau's consumer price index which shows that there has been only 3.2 per cent increase in prices in Delhi whereas in Mumbai it was 4.6, 5.0 in Chennai and 8.0 in Kolkata.

There was an increase of 5.5 per cent at all India level.

Dr Walia stated that the government has made provision of Rs.9 crore for enhanced honorarium of Anganwari workers and helpers apart from providing additional funds of Rs 100 crore for senior citizens' pension.

There has been a marked improvement in the transport sector.

'''Our government has constructed 37 flyovers and 27 more flyovers will be commissioned in time to come.'' The Government has decided to purchase 000 air-conditioned/non-air-conditioned low - floor and standard buses for DTC with maintenance contract, he added.

Dr Walia added that proposed outlay of Rs.182 crore for rural development was higher than the original approved outlay of Rs.131 crore.

''Our Rural Development Board has brought substantial improvement in the villages,''he noted.

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