| State of Governance: Delhi Citizen Handbook 2003
OUTLOOK, NOV 3, 2003
A citizen's handbook to take stock of the city's wrongs
As a resident of India's capital, the Delhiite is on the odd occasion proud of his city. This is possibly because he doesn't know that, in Delhi, stray cows are held in more esteem than his children. In 2001, the Delhi government spent Rs 4,416 on a cow, more than the per student expenditure at a government school. The total amount spent on the animals was Rs 1.5 crore,money that would have gone some way to building a school for the city's 5 lakh slum children.
Despite having a per capita income three times the national average and the best financial infrastructure, Delhi is growing into an urban jungle. A population touching 14 million, half of them migrant, is pouring out of its seams. Result: urban facilities are stretched, administrative corruption rampant and citizens are either helpless or apathetic.
But the citizen, in lieu of the taxes he/ she pays, has the right to efficient amenities, law and order and a clean environment. And the most important thing needed to exercise that right is information—about the many tentacles of government, how they function and the quality of their work. To guide the Delhiite, the Centre for Civil Society, a think-tank working for citizens' rights, has come out with an efficient handbook. A research project involving a score of fresh graduates, it has unearthed some shocking facts to possibly shake the common man out of his reverie.
For instance, take the fact that the Delhiite exposes himself to serious hazards when he goes out to buy food. There are only 28 inspectors in the prevention of food adulteration department—the number is the same as it was in 1960—to inspect over 1.5 lakh registered food establishments. Even at two outlets per inspector a day, a restaurant would be inspected only once in eight years! And don't forget the 3.5 lakh unlicensed food outlets.
Why are vegetables so abundant, yet so expensive here unlike in other cities? Farmers pay 7-15 per cent of sales as commission to licensed agents at wholesale markets that are the monopoly of the Delhi Agricultural Marketing Board (DAMB) plus a one per cent transaction fee to the market. The Azadpur market farmers, for instance, pay Rs 4.42 crore to the DAMB. (See box for more examples.)
The city produces 6,500-7,500 tonnes of garbage everyday but despite 36 garbage workers per 10,000 people, compared to 18-20 for Mumbai, Calcutta or Chennai, it looks as filthy as ever. The state runs over 76 per cent of the schools, but private unaided schools have taken away a third of the total students. And why not? A study conducted by Social Jurist found that over 80 per cent of the children in Class V of MCD schools could not even read or write their names.
Even our elected representatives are pretty much guilty of similar misdemeanours. Only half of the allocated funds of the MLA Development Funds were spent last fiscal. But, says Partha J. Shah, ccs president: "The Right to Information Act is your shortest road to a revolution in public governance, to an effective and limited government." Shah gives examples of how the Act was used by factory owners to slum-dwellers to get redressal from MCD, DVB and even the food supplies department.
Shah also suggests how city governance can be reformed. The first rule, he says, is "the rule of doctors: Do no harm. Likewise, don't obstruct". Review all laws that obstruct a person from earning an honest living or provide an essential service. Example, the need to get 14 licenses to open a school up to the eighth standard.Two, separate provision from production, and focus on the core function—contract out garbage disposal, issue food stamps, etc. Three, finance services through user fees (like water meters) instead of taxes that hit the non-user. Four, expand choice and competition.Fifth, give clean subsidies—pay per student scholarship to schools, instead of grants etc. Lastly, get a report card system in place. Let the citizens vote with their judgement, not by sitting at home on poll day.
THE FINANCIAL EXPRESS, OCT 24, 2003
Study shows Delhi wanting in basic infrastructure
ASHOK B SHARMA
NEW DELHI, OCT 23: A study conducted by the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) on the Delhi government and municipal corporation has found severe flaws in delivery of basic and essential services and lack of efficient infrastructure.
The study brought to light some startling facts. The prevention of food adulteration (PFA) department in the Delhi government has only 28 food inspectors to oversee 1.50 lakh food establishments. The study said that with such low manpower in place, it would be able to inspect a single food outlet only once in 17 years. The number of food inspectors in the PFA department has not changed since 1960.
The drugs control department of the state government has 29 drug inspectors for inspecting 5,000 drug retailers. The fake drug market in the city is estimated at Rs 4,000 crore per year.
The study entitled ‘State of Governance’ also found that over 80 per cent of the children who pass out from class V in corporation schools do not know how to read or write their names. The Delhi Transport Corporation employs 12 people per bus and incurs a monthly loss of Rs 25 crore, whereas private operators employ 6 persons per bus and earn profit.
The farmers pay 7-15 per cent of their sale proceeds as commission to commission agents at the regulated wholesale markets controlled by the Delhi Agriculture Marketing Board.
Delhi has 36 ‘safai karamcharis’ (scavengers) per 10,000 persons while all other metros have about 18 ‘safai karamcharis’ per 10,000 and, yet Delhi is not as clean compared to other cities.
Over Rs 4 crore taxpayers’ money has been wasted under the Old Age Pension Scheme as 37.5 per cent of the beneficiaries were found ineligible. In 168 cases, the beneficiaries by name were dead persons, however, the department of social welfare continued to send them pensions despite being informed by local post offices, the study said.
The study further said the labour department rendered a subsidy of Rs 1,545 per person for stay at Holiday Home at Mussoorie and Rs 2,612 per person for stay at Holiday Home at Haridwar in 2000-01. The CCS in its report concluded that the Delhi Financial Corporation has overstated its profits by at least Rs 171.25 lakh and its reserves and surplus by Rs 78.99 lakh in 2002-03. Only 3.6 per cent of the MLA Local Area Development Scheme fund were spent in 1999-2000. However, it is encouraging to note that this fund utility rose to 52.2 per cent in 2002-03.
The study notes that though the Licence-Permit Raj has been abolished in the industry, it exists in other areas. To open a school in a slum or a barber shop or a dhaba or to sell ice cream, water, fruits, vegetables on the roadside licences are necessary. Since licences are limited, people do business as usual without them and this results in regular harassment and extortions by policemen. In this context, the study said that on one hand the government is pouring money through employment generation schemes and on the other hand it is preventing the people from earning a honest living.
Alternately, the study suggests a new public management (NPM). It suggests rendering of clean subsidies to identified beneficiaries like food coupons to families living below the poverty line (BPL) and education vouchers to poor children for purchase of books, levying water tax on actual users instead of a flat rate on all and hospitals should contract services in which it has less competence.
INDIAN EXPRESS, OCT 22, 2003
NGO advocates constituency-level power supply
Express News Service
New Delhi, October 21: The Centre for Civil Society (CCS) has advocated constituency-level power distribution in Delhi instead of the three existing distribution companies. And apply that to Delhi Jal Board’s water supply as well.
All this and more is part of the State of Governance: Delhi Citizen Handbook 2003 — a compilation of studies by 25 agencies, boards, corporations and departments of the Delhi government and MCD which was released in the Capital today.
The CSS study states that the DTC employs 12 persons per bus and incurs a loss of Rs 25 crore, whereas private operators employ six persons per bus and reap profit. The DTC’s auction off all buses and depots to make room for private players was contested by Congress MLA Kiran Walia, one of the four panelists at the release. ‘‘Blueline buses are beyond the state’s control. To make bus service accessible, all buses should be under the DTC,’’ she said.
Raising points over CSS’s proposed de-centralisation of power and water, Walia said: ‘‘Although decentralisation is a good concept, Delhi’s shortage of water does not permit for procurement from other states.’’
Recommending the government be under duty to publish all its information not prohibited by law, CCS President Parth J.Shah said: ‘‘Right to Information Act is the most significant change introduced by the Delhi government, but it still does not enable citizens to access information easily.’’
Some of the reforms recommended by the CCS are startling. Sample this: A proposal for Delhi government to equip graduates with two years of medical training to treat water-borne diseases which constitute 90 per cent of diseases reported in Delhi. ‘‘With only 26,000 legal practitioners in Delhi, the 40,000 quacks can also be incorporated into the system,’’ commented Shah.
Debating the various recommendations, panelist and congressman Mani Shankar Aiyer said: ‘‘The choices made in governance have evolved on the lines of what benefits the citizen. As politicians, we deal with welfare and not just consumer demand. The issue is not whether one is dealing with the citizen or the consumer, but how to make the system more efficient for either.’’
NDTV.COM, OCT 21, 2003
NGO report slams governance in Delhi
Wednesday, October 22, 2003 (New Delhi):
A report by the Centre for Civil Society, an NGO, has slammed the state government for gross mismanagement in every department.
It claims the government has no planning and is incurring huge losses in all sectors, be it agriculture, health or education.
According to the report:
The prevention of food adulteration department has just 28 inspectors for 1.5 lakh registered food outlets. At one outlet per inspector per day, an outlet would be inspected once in every 17 years.
The drug control department has just 29 inspectors for over 5000 drug retailers. With the fake drug market flourishing at a business of over Rs 4000 crore per year, the department is inadequate to crackdown on the offenders.
And more than 80 per cent of the children, who pass class five exams from MCD schools, do not know how to read or write their names.
"It's not just Delhi, governance is bad everywhere in the country. But the situation in Delhi is worse with the two most corrupt departments, DDA and MCD," said Surendra Bhalla, economist.
"The two have no mention in the report because of lack of availability of any figures and no co-operation from the department," he added.
If the findings of the report are to be believed, then Delhi gets a red mark on its governance report card with practically every department under performing.
But the report does stress on the fact that instead of blaming the administration, the effort should be on making citizens more aware of their laws and rights, so that they use their vote carefully.