Budget session ends early, Amidst uproar over Shunglu report
March, 29th 2011
The Delhi Assembly passed Budget 2011-12 by voice vote on Monday, practically without any discussion. While the Opposition was thrown out of the House yet again, chief minister Sheila Dikshit called her "forward-thinking" budget an improvement on the previous years. She said Opposition was being "uncooperative".
Also, a decision was taken to close the House three days before the scheduled calendar as the Opposition leaders continued their protest over "the government's refusal to discuss" the Shunglu committee findings. Debates on law and order as well as the breaking up of the MCD were on the agenda over the next few days.
The disruption in the House on Monday started over the findings of the VK Shunglu committee. The BJP, which was demanding tabling of the Shunglu report, could not be pacified by the speaker's assurance that the government was preparing a detailed response on the matter the Prime Minister's Office.
Speaking on his decision to close the House sine-die, speaker Yoganand Shastri said, "The Opposition has been routinely disrupting the proceedings… Opposition leaders are not cooperating. There didn't seem to be any point in continuing the House when there isn't any constructive discussion."
It's a point of view that obviously found favor with the treasury benches, as members talked about attending the India-Pak match on Wednesday instead of coming to the House. The CM claimed the early adjournment of the House was "inevitable" in the face of the "uncooperative" attitude of the BJP. Shastri added that the decision to sine die the House was taken "independently" and "not in consultation with the cabinet".
On Monday, BJP MLAs, wearing black arm-band, vociferously protested over the Shunglu report, forcing two brief adjournments before they were evicted from the House. Opposition MLAs had rushed to the well of the House, shouting slogans and demanding resignation of Dikshit.
Commenting on the decision to adjourn the budget session of the Assembly, BJP leader VK Malhotra said, "The Shunglu committee has leveled serious charges against the Delhi CM. She is not in a position to face these charges, so the House was adjourned sine die."
The Budget 2011-12 was passed without major changes. The CM, who holds the charge of finance, reiterated the budget was development-oriented. Claiming a substantial increase in plan outlay under various sectors, Dikshit said there had been an increase in the allocation for the social sector, from 55% to 58% in this budget. Announcing some concessions, Dikshit said in order to promote the handlooms, handloom furnishing has been exempted from the VAT. Earlier, a 5% VAT was proposed on furnishings. Adult diapers, she announced, have also been exempted from 12.5% VAT.
On Monday, Dikshit announced an increase in the money under MLA LADS fund from Rs 2 crore to Rs 4 crore. This would comprise Rs 2.5 crore as part of the MLA LADS fund, as well as an amount of Rs 1 crore for water and sewage works of DJB and Rs 10 lakh under the District Development Committee scheme. The current ceiling of Rs 70 lakh for one project under the scheme has been enhanced to Rs150 lakh.
The CM added that a decision to increase assistance for marriage of widow's daughter from Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 has been taken.
The government revised the allocated plan outlay for various development works in unauthorized colonies during 11th Five Year Plan from Rs 2,800 crore to Rs 3,007 crore. Claiming the government had managed to utilize around 96-97% of the planned outlay each year, the CM added the decision to spend more on the social sector was possible as the spending on transport had come down.
Stating that the Ladli scheme has been able to bring improvement in gender ratio and increase enrolment of girls in the schools, Dikshit said about 3.38 lakh girls have been registered under Ladli scheme till March 21, 2011 and 19,298 girls have got maturity claim payment. Dikshit added that the hospital projects proposed to be taken up by the city government under PPP model will ensure free treatment for all BPL category patients as government would reimburse the cost of their treatments.