NEW DELHI: Carrying the burden of huge expectations, the Arvind Kejriwal government today announced waiving pending water bills till November last as it completed one year in office, a period marked by repeated run-ins with the Lt Governor and the Centre.
The Chief Minister and his entire cabinet held an over two hour-long public interaction to mark the milestone during which they presented the government's report card since storming to power with an overwhelming haul of 67 seats in the 70-member assembly.
"We completed one year today. Now the servants of the people are standing before their masters to provide explanations," Kejriwal said, adding his administration had not let a single penny of taxpayers' money go to "waste".
In his response to a question, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of trying to "shield" corrupt officials.
The AAP government has been locked in fierce confrontation with the Centre and Lt Governor Najeeb Jung ever since coming to power over a range of issues.
Its relationship with the BJP-ruled Centre deteriorated significantly following a CBI raid on Delhi Secretariat in connection with an alleged graft case against the Chief MInister's Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar.
"Modi ji is fully trying to protect corrupt persons in Delhi. Delhi Assembly had passed Janlokpal Bill which has been sent to the Centre for its approval. Once it is approved by the Centre, Lokpal will nab these persons (corrupt)," said Sisodia.
Under the water bill waiver scheme announced by the Chief Minister, residents of posh localities will be given exemption of up to 25 per cent on their dues, while those in not so upscale areas will receive 50 per cent exemption. Residents of a majority of areas will get full waiver.
"People living in A and B category areas will be given exemption of up to 25 per cent, while those in C category will receive 50 per cent exemption.
"The D category area will be exempted 75 per cent and E,F,G and H category areas will be completely exempted from paying pending bills. Late Payment Surcharge (LPS) will be waived for all categories," said the Chief Minister.
The government also launched 20 polyclinics across the city as part of the celebrations.
Kejriwal and other ministers took phone calls from people and answered a variety of questions during the event at NDMC Convention Centre. The Chief Minister also announced a Rs 800 crore project to lay water pipelines in areas where piped water is currently not available.The Delhi Chief Minister said only those consumers who have functional water meters will be able to benefit from the dues waiver scheme. He said water connections will be made available for unauthorized colonies and by the end of December 2017, every household in the city will be connected to a piped water network.
The total value of the pending bills across categories is Rs 2,854.80 crore. The government also decided to waive the payment of late fee and that will cost another Rs 923.27 crore to the exchequer.
After coming to power, the AAP government had announced halving of power tariffs for families consuming up to 400 units a month and free-water supply of 20,000 litres (20 kilolitres) to every household.
The Chief Minister also announced the re-implementation of the Delhi government's scheme of 80 per cent reduction in one—time sewer and water development charges for those taking new connections.
Addressing a separate event, Kejriwal launched a stinging attack on previous governments in Delhi, saying their "bad intentions" resulted in Delhi lagging behind in terms of development.
Seeking to underscore the "difference" between previous dispensations and his government, Kejriwal said the "same team of doctors and engineers who did not get a chance to work during the earlier regimes have done a good job over the past year".
"All the parties which were in the government in the past, would keep saying that there is no money (for development works). But from my experience in the government during the year, I have seen there is no shortage of funds, but intentions.
"Until now, their intentions were bad. Last year, you gave thumping majority to those with good intention (AAP) and now see all the big works are taking place," Kejriwal said.
The Chief Minister made the remark during a function in Jafrabad where he inaugurated Aam Aadmi Poly Clinic. The Government launched 20 such clinics simultaneously today.
Kejriwal said his government was being "troubled" in "some or the other way" by the BJP-led Centre and urged the gathering to keep supporting his party.
Health Minister Satyandar Jain said the Government plans to launch 150 poly clinics in the city. Of these, 90 are dispensaries which the Government will convert into polyclinics, he added.
The AAP government had made a series of announcements including setting up of Aam Aadmi Canteen and providing free wi-fi in public spaces. These projects are yet to see any forward movement.