The Delhi Cabinet on Tuesday decided to extend its free electricity scheme for domestic consumers by another year.
Under the scheme, introduced in 2019, the government provides 100% subsidy on monthly consumption of up to 200 units. Those consuming 201-400 units per month get 50% subsidy.
Announcing the decision, Power Minister Atishi yet again charged Lieutenant-Governor V.K. Saxena and the BJP with trying to prevent the Delhi government from extending the power subsidy to city residents.
However, sources in the L-G office have denied the accusations.
Ms. Atishi said applications for the subsidy received from October last year till now will be considered valid till April 2024.
More than 48 lakh consumers, of a total of 58 lakh, have opted for subsidy, as per official figures.
Reducing air pollution
The Cabinet also approved a ₹2,388-crore proposal aimed at reducing air pollution and improving roads. The government will now outsource the operations and management of 250 water sprinkler machines integrated with anti-smog guns, 70 mechanical road sweeping machines integrated with 210 water sprinklers and anti-smog guns, 18 water tankers and 18 dump vehicles over the next 7-10 years.
In February this year, The Hindu reported that instead of purchasing these machines, the government would outsource their operations and management to private companies and monitor their performance.
Water Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj on Tuesday said hiring these machines will cost the government ₹257 crore in the first year. He also said that the mechanical road sweeping machines will be used to clean Public Works Department (PWD) roads over 60 feet wide.
Mr. Bharadwaj added that the PWD will take the onus of cleaning these roads, which is currently the Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s responsibility. Tenders for these projects will be floated soon, the Minister said.
The Cabinet also approved the ‘Sugamaya Sahayak Scheme’ to enhance the mobility of individuals with benchmark disabilities. Through this scheme, the government will provide them with smart canes, hearing aids, wheelchairs, motorised tricycles and artificial limbs to help them overcome physical barriers and improve their mobility.
Delhi BJP chief Virendra Sachdeva said Ms. Atishi had “lied” about the L-G and the BJP trying to stop the free electricity scheme. Mr. Sachdeva challenged the Minister to show a single circular by the L-G or a statement by BJP leaders opposing the subsidy. He said that the government should credit the subsidy directly to the consumers’ accounts instead of paying the discoms.