Staff Reporter

RWAs accuse Government of squandering public money

`Both the Centre and State are increasing the burden on the citizens'Chief Minister urged to extend the same facility to other Government servants and residents of Delhi

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Cabinet's decision on reimbursing 50 per cent of the power and water bills of IAS and DANICS officers and its justification by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has come in for a great deal of sharp criticism from the Capital's residents' welfare associations, trade associations and non-government organisations. They have demanded an immediate review of the decision or extension of the same facility to lakhs of ordinary consumers also.

Accusing the Delhi Government of squandering public money to please a few already pampered officials, the Delhi Residents' Welfare Associations Joint Front, a body of around 200 RWAs, said on Friday that the decision to pay IAS and DANICS officers 50 per cent of their electricity and water bills and also give an allowance for domestic help employed by them deserved to be condemned by every right-thinking citizen.

"It is unfortunate that the Delhi Government wants to pamper the bureaucrats at the cost of the common man, ignoring the burden it would put on the taxpayer. Both the Union Government and the Delhi Government are doing nothing but increasing the burden on the citizens. Be it imposition of VAT, service tax, fringe benefit tax, petrol and diesel hike or even water and power hike, it is the man on the street who is being robbed by such measures,'' charged Delhi RWAs' Joint Front Secretary Pankaj Aggarwal.

Criticising the Delhi Cabinet for not keeping in mind the interests of the much talked about "aam aadmi'' and instead working to appease the bureaucrats who are already handsomely paid and availing of many government facilities, Mr. Aggarwal said that by extending the 50 per cent rebate only to IAS, DANICS and Judicial officers, the Government had opened the floodgates for other employees to demand a similar benefit. "The Government should without any further delay take back the decision; otherwise it will send a wrong signal to lakhs of citizens who are facing harassment due to inflated bills, fast running meters and annual increase in power tariff,'' Mr. Aggarwal added.

Similarly, a leading NGO, People's Action, termed the Government's decision to offer a 50 per cent rebate on their electricity and water bills as a victory of different sorts.

The NGO took strong exception to the statement by Ms. Dikshit justifying her Government's decision, saying that it smacked of a direct insinuation that other Government servants do not work hard enough to warrant a similar perk