Experts say govt has tried to make Delhi Covid-free by announcing free vaccines in govt hospitals.

New Delhi: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday presented the budget for 2021-22 in the state Assembly. The Rs 69,000 crore budget with the theme of “Desh Bhakti” also contains several programmes that the Kejriwal-led government will undertake to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Independence Day. The budget offers free Covid vaccines in all government hospitals for Delhi residents, special mohalla clinics for women and the world’s first virtual schools. Several industry experts told The Sunday Guardian that the budget focuses on short-term as well as long-term goals.

Kshitij Nagpal, president, Association of Property Professionals (Delhi/NCR), told The Sunday Guardian: “With this budget, the Delhi government is focusing on increasing connectivity by making new roads. The government has announced the construction of 500 km of roads at the cost of Rs 500 crore. This will help connect the remote regions of the capital with the urban ones and give people an option to seek real estate properties in the outskirts. This will benefit the sector as new projects can be initiated in the areas that have remained uninhabited so far because of the lack of connectivity.”

Ravi Kaushik, CEO, AiRTH, told The Sunday Guardian: “The Delhi Budget 2021 has focused well on some of the immediate as well as long-run issues, health, education, and infra, for instance. The 14% of the total budget allocation to health, amounting to Rs 9,934 crore, seems quite reasonable and obligatory. The announcement of free vaccine at all government facilities were much awaited. However, the critical issue at hand is that of stricter health and related facilities management throughout the year. An increase in per day vaccination will surely facilitate the need, but what requires more attention is the deployment of a firm healthcare backbone supported by stronger monetary and infra facilities.”

Some experts have also applauded the government’s decision to provide sewer and water facilities to people living in unauthorized colonies.

Dinesh Semwal, Founder, Ensavior Technologies, told The Sunday Guardian: “We welcome the Delhi Budget 2020-21. The government has been very proactive in taking initiatives whether it’s in the education and healthcare sectors or the construction industry. The allocation of Rs 1,550 crore in the budget for 2021-22 will substantially enhance development of areas. A big move for the development of proper infrastructure, including sewer connection, roads, parks, wi-fi facility, in all unauthorised colonies. The consistent and dedicated efforts by the government shall provide best facilities to the people like sewer connections, piped water and roads to the slums and unauthorised colonies of the city.”

The Delhi government has allocated one-fourth of the budget, or Rs 16,377 crore to the education sector and Rs 9,934 crore to the health sector.

Dr Gurpreet Sandhu, president, Council for Healthcare and Pharma, a global think tank that advocates the development of sustainable health systems around the world, told The Sunday Guardian: “As there is still a fear of a second wave of Covid-19, Delhi’s Finance Minister Manish Sisodia’s announcement of providing free of cost vaccination in the coming phases in all the hospitals of the national capital during the presentation of Delhi Budget comes as a big sigh of relief. It shows how the AAP government is leaving no stone unturned to make Delhi Covid-19 free. It is quite a well-thought budget as it primarily focuses on two prime pillars of development–education and health. He proposed to allocate Rs 16,377 crore, one-fourth of the total budget, for the education sector while the health segment got Rs 9,934 crore. Moreover, the government has also set aside Rs 1,234 crore for the expansion of Delhi’s healthcare services, including opening new hospitals, renovating the existing ones and augmenting beds because Delhi is considered the hub of medical facilities in our country. Sisodia also emphasized on women’s health in the rural sector in his budget allocation by taking the decision of opening special Mahilla mohalla clinics from the next year onwards. Even the announcement of issuing smart health cards to the citizens will not only enable secure and portable exchange of health information, but will also allow patients to retain their personal health records at all times in a convenient and compact format.”

Dr Marcus Ranney, Founder, Human Edge, told The Sunday Guardian: “It’s a big push for well-being and I am once again heartened to see health play a central role in a budget announcement. Sisodia’s plans will see close to Rs 10,000 crore allocated to healthcare, the largest sector-wide increment in his speech, with a significant amount being spent towards vaccination and control efforts for the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Dr Vivek Bindra, motivational speaker, renowned business coach, and founder & CEO of Bada Business, an EdTech startup, told The Sunday Guardian: “The initiative of ‘virtual model schools’ with the idea to promote any-time learning, any-time teaching is another notable step to use technology as an enabler. Looking holistically, Budget 2021 also lays focus on improving healthcare, infra, power and tourism sectors, and the thrust will be crucial in helping the state’s economy recover from the impact of Covid.”