Tuesday, July 18, 2006

New Delhi – Money Down The Drain?

During a recent discussion at IIT Kanpur, the Director, Prof. Sanjay G. Dhande cautioned some foreign guests against forming their impressions about India after visiting its capital city. He said, “Delhi could be on another planet as far as the rest of the country is concerned – Its annual budget is more that that of many states combined!”.

Was this true? Absolutely!

Under the 10th five-year plan (2002-2007), the outlay for Delhi was Rs.23,000 crores. For a city with a population of just 13.7 million, residing in an area of 1483 sq.km, this bounty comes at the cost of the other larger, more populous states. Consider this:

· Delhi keeps for herself a larger share than 24 of the 35 states and Union Territories of India
· Delhi’s budget exceeds that of all states except – Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala (only just), Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
· Bihar, with a population of 82.8 million gets less than Delhi – only Rs.21,000 Crores.
· If you add up the budget allocated to the neighboring states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, the capital city still gets about Rs. 2500 crores extra.

Except for that spacious, beautiful patch in the heart of New Delhi called Lutyens Zone, the rest of the city is a serious embarrassment - a showcase of shallow planning and poor management.

So, where does all this money go?

One could have said that it all goes down the drain, but we realized (yet again!)after yesterday’s heavy downpour, the subsequent water logging and traffic jams, that the drains too are choked with empty promises and platitudes.

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