Delhi BJP chief Adesh Kumar Gupta has also accused the Kejriwal government of not giving funds to the MCD properly.
New Delhi: With people of Delhi reeling under rising pollution and the coronavirus pandemic, State BJP President Adesh Kumar Gupta has slammed the AAP government for “not handling” the situation properly. He spoke to The Sunday Guardian regarding the rising pollution, Covid-19 situation in Delhi, among other issues. Excerpts:
Q. How, according to you, the Delhi Government is responsible for air and water pollution?
A. If the Delhi government had handled the issue properly, then the situation wouldn’t have worsened like this. Rather than doing “solid” work, what they did was they introduced a green budget in 2018. In the Green Budget, they had made 26 commitments saying that we will fulfill all. One of the commitments was launching 1000 electric buses, which they didn’t do. The second was anti-smoke guns for which Rs. 30 crore was there but they didn’t launch it. Similarly, the machines for disposing of stubble. Centre asked offered these machines with a promise of aid. But the Delhi government didn’t buy them. Haryana and Punjab governments took these machines. Similarly, the promise of planting Rs. 2 crore saplings was also not fulfilled. You have funds for pollution control. All the departments like Delhi Jal Board, PWD, Pollution control board, and others never presented any plan. Since 2015, you are witnessing this problem. which comes every year. In September, they will do some advertisement in Delhi for publicity on the environment and pollution. But the problem of pollution will not end with publicity. You need to follow the guidelines of the Pollution Control Board or those of the Central Government. The Delhi government lacks will-power. As a result, people are facing a lot of problems. People know you will advertise for 2-3 months. They are putting posters of “Yudh Pradushan ke Viruddh”. What will this do? Today the level of ammonia has increased in the Yamuna water. People don’t have water to drink. The drinking water is poisonous. Due to this, the water supply has been stopped in several areas of Delhi. Before the lockdown, the air and water were clean. After the lockdown, the situation deteriorated again. This government only cares about advertisements. This is a betrayal towards the people of Delhi. They didn’t fulfill any promise.
Q. But Delhi government launched several schemes to curb pollution like “Green Delhi” mobile. Don’t you think these schemes will work?
A. No. They will not work. See, you need work at the ground level first. Smoke towers will help in reducing the pollution level. All these schemes are fine for awareness. When there is a fire accident, the corporation is responsible for punishing the culprits. There are some short-comings in this too. Similarly, it is everyone’s responsibility to stop people from causing pollution. But, at the same time, whether it’s corona or pollution, the corporation is working and you are not giving them funds. You are running the government in Delhi, the corporation is also working for the people of Delhi. So, it’s to give them proper funds so that they can fulfill their duties properly. I believe everyone’s input is necessary. If the Central government had not introduced the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and Western Peripheral Expressway, then the number of vehicles would have been more in Delhi. This has reduced almost 60,000 vehicles. I believe the Delhi Government has failed to deal with the issue of pollution.
Q. MCD is alleging the Delhi government is not releasing funds, which CM Arvind Kejriwal is denying. When will this blame-game come to an end?
A. The Delhi Government has a budget of Rs. 60,000 crore. The corporation has a budget of Rs. 13,000 crore. The government is supposed to give these funds. Every year, they trim the budget of MCD. Due to this, MCD is not able to work properly. MCD is a welfare organization, be it hospitals, educational institutes or schools, or public healthcare issues like Dengue. MCD works to curb Dengue but Kejriwal Ji takes the credit and he doesn’t give them their allotted funds. Kejriwal Ji works with political motive and I request him to tackle the issues with unity. All of us need to unite together to work for the betterment of the public. But it hurts when Kejriwal Saab pretends to work together publicly and believes more in the advertisement. Tell me something, which cannot be done with such a huge budget and revenue. The government is simply wasting money on hoardings and ads.
Q. You have been the mayor of North Delhi Municipal Corporation. Looking at the ongoing scenario, what exactly is the problem there? Did you also face similar issues?
A. Everyone knows ever since the Kejriwal government came to power, they stopped the funds for the road infrastructure budget. Earlier, funds for building Community centers used to be given separately. Similarly, funds for gardening used to be given separately. All of these funds are removed now. And the money for the global share, during Sheila Dixit’s regime, 17 percent global share used to be given to the corporations. Now the government has reduced it to 10 percent. Now during this coronavirus situation, they reduced it by 50 per cent. Now, the north corporation has been given around Rs. 200 crore out of the allotted Rs. 1000 crore. This was the reason for the salary issue.
Q. There are reportedly some internal issues within the BJP’s Delhi unit. Also, you changed your core team recently. Was this taken due to these issues?
A. No I haven’t changed any core team. Whenever there is a new president, they make their own team. The newly formed team comprises both new and old faces. There are no internal issues as such. Our party is a workers’ party. All of us are working together. There is one person as a president but all the workers whether they are senior or junior, work together.
Q. What will be your key issues in the MCD elections 2022?
A. Our main issue will be how the corporation worked rigorously despite limited resources. The corporation has done a lot of good work like controlling Dengue. MCD planned and controlled the situation very well. Also, the MCD has done some fabulous work in the area of primary education. The Delhi government’s non-cooperative towards MCD by not giving them proper funds will also be one of the key issues in this election.
Q. There was also some discord within BJP’s Delhi Unit over the names of district presidents and mandal presidents. What do you have to say about this?
A. There wasn’t any discord like this. This time, we increased the age criteria in case of mandal presidency due to which a lot of youngsters came forward. This time we have also prioritised women candidates for the positions. For the first time, we chose women as mandal and district presidents. Almost 20 women have been chosen as Mandal presidents. We have also prioritized people less than 55 years of age as district president.
Q. It is said the number of coronavirus cases may increase in winters in Delhi-NCR. Do you think the state government will be able to handle the blow?
A. I am doubtful. The reason is, last time, when the coronavirus situation rose in Delhi, they didn’t tackle it properly. Manish Sisodia ji and others also said that there will be more than 5 lakh cases. When Home Minister Amit Shah ji took charge of the situation, then the situation was a bit under control. I believe the Delhi government should be aware of the situation and emphasize social distancing.