Delhi choking and thirsty as ministers' stir cripples city governance

Delhi choking and thirsty as ministers’ stir cripples city governance

The chief minister, three of his ministers, and with them the executive powers of 20 Delhi government departments, are all “bunking” in a room at the lieutenant governor’s house.

This at a time when there has been a steep rise in respiratory ailments owing to choking air pollution, large parts of the city reel under a water crisis and power outages in several areas have added to people’s woes.

However, the heads of key ministries are on strike, demanding more power over governance and full statehood for Delhi.

Source say day-to-day work in departments including health, education, water, power, PWD and finance have come to a standstill.

The water department is the only portfolio that CM Arvind Kejriwal holds. His deputy, Manish Sisodia, is in charge of as many as 10 key ministries, while half a dozen departments including health and power are run by Satyendar Jain.

All of them and their cabinet colleague Gopal Rai, who holds four portfolios, have been holed up for four days inside a room at Raj Niwas.

On Thursday, Delhi’s air pollution remained “severe” for the third consecutive day with PM10 level being three times above normal.

You don’t need full statehood to give Delhiites water.Issue can be resolved by talks.Before 1993, Delhi had to buy water from others.The first BJP govt here got Delhi its share of water through dialogue with Haryana.

– Manoj Tiwari, Delhi BJP president

Several private and government hospitals have been flooded with patients complaining of respiratory ailments like breathlessness and asthma.

A doctor at a Delhi government institute said people have been advised to wear masks but there is a shortage of them in hospitals and stores.

“Emergency steps are needed to protect people from toxic air which is unprecedented in summers,” he said.

Facing flak from all quarters, Kejriwal shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention to end the deadlock between the Delhi government and the lieutenant governor.

The ruling Aam Aadmi Party also alleged that nobody was being allowed to meet the CM at the L-G secretariat and blamed the “stubborn” attitude of lieutenant governor Anil Baijal for the breakdown of governance in Delhi.

As Kejriwal admitted in his letter to the PM, several crucial tasks like cleaning of drains before monsoon, setting up of mohalla clinics and measures to curb air pollution in Delhi had taken a hit.

He, however, blamed the IAS officers for the paralysis.

He said no meeting has taken place between IAS officers and ministers for the past three months to address the issue of air pollution, even as toxic particles in the air reached dangerous levels over the past three days. As the stalemate continues, political parties, as well as Delhiites, took to social media to vent their anger.

My brother came to meet me from Pune.But the L-G office didn’t allow him to meet me.Delhi government and the people of Delhi request PM with folded hands to get the strike called off immediately so that works of Delhi can resume.

– Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

While the BJP and Congress attacked the AAP government over the worsening situation in Delhi, common people wondered if the ministers were any different from the bureaucrats by bringing governance to a halt.

The turf war is rooted in Delhi’s unique position as a Union Territory functioning as the Capital, with the state government having no say over important departments like law and order and agencies such as the DDA.

“If they accuse IAS officers of not doing any work, are these ministers any different from them,” said Pawan Sharma, a Delhi University student.

City BJP spokesperson Harish Khurana said de-silting of drains along public works department (PWD) roads are still pending. This will lead to choking of all drains in the city and lead to water-logging during monsoon, he added.

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