There are two parts of Delhi’s pollution. One is NCR, other is Delhi. We can work on the solutions from Delhi. We can’t say what they (Centre) will do for the NCR. Farmers from neighboring states, Punjab and Haryana, burn crop residue in November and December every year. For example, air pollution is there even today (4th Feb 2018), but not like November. Delhi also has its own pollution-making factors. The biggest of all is vehicular pollution and we are working on that. We have set targets for ourselves.
Exclusive | Manish Sisodia shares his insights on Delhi’s development, economy; reveals why AAP govt didn’t raise tax-rates in last budget
By: Aman Dwivedi | Updated: February 10, 2018 10:49:51 AM
In an exclusive interview to Financialexpress.com, Manish Sisodia, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister, said focus on healthcare and education is part of AAP's in-principle philosophy. Sisodia also spoke vividly on issues like air pollution, traffic congestion, slums and development of Delhi's economy.
Manish sisodia shares his vision on Delhi's pollution development education and economy
Manish Sisodia at his official residence. (Express photo:: Nitesh Kapoor)
Delhi Government had announced a Rs 48,000-crore budget in in 2017. Unlike other states, where infrastructure has been the top focus of elected governments, Delhi has seen its government investing big on education and healthcare. In 2017, the Delhi government had allocated Rs 11,300 crore (around 24 per cent) for education and Rs 5,736 crore for healthcare.
In an exclusive interview to Financialexpress.com, Manish Sisodia, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister, said focus on these two areas is a part of AAP’s in-principle philosophy. Sisodia also spoke vividly on issues like air pollution, traffic congestion, slums and development of Delhi’s economy.
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You allocated 24 percent of your total budget on education last year. We have seen swimming pools coming up in schools. Why so much focus on one particular sector?
It’s not about swimming pools. The biggest mistake our country has made since independence is we have not invested in education. We have invested on infrastructure, we have invested in other sectors as well, but education has been neglected. You can’t build up a nation, without the foundation of education. We are a confused society about education. Sometimes, we think the government will take care of it, then we think society will take care of it and let the private sector run it. As a result, we have a few very good schools in India, but we have lakhs of very bad schools in India. In Delhi also, on one hand, we have fantastic schools like DPS, Sanskriti, etc. May Be 100 good schools. In government sector also, there are certain good schools like Pratibha, but only 17.
There are schools where 150 students are studying in one classroom. How can we teach them? First of all, education is the foundation stone of any society we talk about. What we are doing about it is zero. So we started doing it. We doubled the budget on education from what it used to be. Since then, for last three years, we have been working on it. The quarter of total budget is dedicated to education. We are developing infrastructure under this – which includes swimming pools, world-class astroturf for football, hockey and racing stadiums. On the other hand, we have developed classrooms, better auditoriums, libraries. We are giving world-class training to our teachers. Often we say that spending on infrastructure is in investing in development. This is a very narrow definition of development. We have changed this definition. If we are investing in education, it means that we are investing in development. For the nation, we are investing in education.
What has been the effect on the ground? Has the number of students reaching government schools increased?
Certain things are objective, certain things are subjective. Objective – this year’s result was really good, some parents have shifted their children to government schools from private schools. I do not go by the number. We are teaching 26 Lakh students in Delhi. My goal is to give quality education to all these 26 Lakh students. If you can’t give quality education, number is a farce.
Watch | FE Exclusive: Manish Sisodia Speaks On Delhi’s Development, Economy And ‘Modi Care’
Your government is lauded for proposed doorstep delivery of public service. From where did this idea come?
We speak to people a lot. One common thing which comes across is that you need to have some source in all departments or you have to buy a middleman. Even if you have applied online, they (government officials) will point out flaws in your documents and make you visit two-three times. Then you will look for a middleman. We can see all these problems. What if the government itself goes to people’s doorstep. So this is a solution to a long-pending problem. Since the executive is at your doorstep, he can’t give you the excuse of incomplete documents. If he needs X document in place of Y document, he will get it there only.
Delhi saw a nightmarish pollution crisis last year. Have you planned anything special for this year?
There are two parts of Delhi’s pollution. One is NCR, other is Delhi. We can work on the solutions from Delhi. We can’t say what they (Centre) will do for the NCR. Farmers from neighbouring states, Punjab and Haryana, burn crop residue in November and December every year. For example, the air pollution is there even today (4th Feb, 2018), but not like November. Delhi also has its own pollution-making factors. Biggest of all is vehicular pollution and we are working on that. We have set targets for ourselves.
E-vehicles in the public transport system are the solution. These e-vehicles will include electric cars and buses. We are in talks with service providers on how much e-vehicles can be provided in a time-bound manner. In the upcoming time, you will see buses and taxis getting converted into e-taxis and e-buses in Delhi. We have to reach a stage where there is no diesel, petrol, or even CNG vehicles in Delhi.
We need to enhance public transport system as well. We are buying 4,000 more buses. Also, we are coming up with route-rationalisation. Currently, if a bus starts from Vivek Vihar (point A) to Krishna Nagar (point B) through public transport, it takes many turns. Because of the same, a person opts for personal vehicles, maybe a bike. The same causes pollution. If a person can get direct buses from point A to B, he will opt for buses. If a person wants to travel from Vivek Vihar to ITO or Connaught Place, then why will he enter the inner-city? He would like to go in his car or bike. If he will get a direct bus, then he will opt for buses. That is why we are saying that routes should be rationalized.