Kejriwal clears Delhi projects but power tussle far from over

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday cleared three back-to-back Delhi projects previously awaiting the Centres decision but the AAPs fight for the administrative control of the capital seemed far from over amid allegations that the BJP-led Central government was defying Supreme Court ruling on who rules the city.

The already stressed ties between the ruling AAP and Lt. Governor Anil Baijal strained further after Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia met him seeking his cooperation in Delhi’s development and good governance.

The Chief Minister alleged that Baijal openly refused to agree that Services Department was under the control of the elected government because a 2015 central Home Ministry order had not been quashed by the Supreme Court in its July 4 ruling that said the central representative was constitutionally bound to listen to the Delhi cabinet.

“This is for the first time in the history of India that the Central government has openly refused to accept a Supreme Court ruling. If it becomes a precedent, there will be anarchy,” Kejriwal told reporters.

He said the Central government’s intransigent attitude in keeping the Services Department under its control had caused delay in Delhi’s development projects because “they (the BJP) for their political gains will want us to fail as we are their rivals and have to face elections”.

“You have Services but you did not fill the post of Director, Education. How can we bring reforms in education if there are so many vacancies? Had Services been with us, we would have appointed a new official 15 days ahead to ensure efficiency.”

Baijal, in his remarks on the contentious issue, said the Home Ministry in its on May 21, 2015 notification, which has been upheld by the Delhi High Court, ruled that the elected government will have no executive powers on Services.

The Lt. Governor said he told the Chief Minister and his deputy that in the wake of the judgment of the Supreme Court constitutional bench, the Home Ministry had advised his office that its earlier notification remained valid as nine appeals including the one relating to Services shall be taken up by the regular bench of the apex court separately.

The Chief Minister said despite Lt. Governor’s inflexibility, his government would continue making efforts to expedite development and welfare projects stalled so far.

“Within the powers that we have after the SC order, I have asked officials to expedite projects. The Lt. Governor told us there is no need to send these files to (him). You can go ahead with the projects,” Kejriwal said.

The struggle to gain control over bureaucrats notwithstanding, Kejriwal was on an announcement spree on Friday to clear held up projects.

He first approved the doorstep delivery of rations in the morning, over-ruling “all objections” the Central government had raised through its representative.

The city government also cleared two major pending projects — completion of a signature bridge and two new academic blocks in the Delhi Technological University (DTU).

After missing multiple deadlines due to inadequate funds, the iconic bridge in Wazirabad will open to public in October, Kejriwal said.

The technical university proposal relates to the construction of five buildings — two academic blocks of 10 storeys each and three hostel blocks of 13 storeys each at DTU, Shahabad Daulatpur, Bawana Road at an estimated cost of approximately Rs 292 crore.

Kejriwal said the work of installing CCTV cameras would be put on the fast track after he “directed the Public Works Department (PWD) Secretary to place the proposal” at a cabinet meeting on July 10.

This is the fourth decision — after doorstep delivery of ration, construction of the bridge and construction of two more administrative blocks in DTU — by the Delhi government after the Supreme Court vested it executive powers.