Delhi, India: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has spent about Rs 45 crores on renovating the CM’s official residence located at Civil Lines, Delhi, Times Now reported on April 25.
It is pertinent to note that Arvind Kejriwal’s move is a sharp contradiction to his 2013 claim that neither he nor other AAP ministers would take government residence, instead insisted that he and the ministers would be allotted smaller government flats.
The report, termed “Operation Sheeshmahal” reveals that a staggering Rs 44.78 crores of taxpayers’ money has been spent on renovating and refurbishing the official residence.
The Delhi Government spent about Rs 5-8 lakh per piece on curtains for the CM’s residence. Furthermore, the report revealed that a whopping Rs 97 lakhs were cleared for the 23 curtains installed during the renovation of the residence for the AAP leader. Furthermore, the report revealed that taxpayers’ money was spent to procure 6 carpets for a staggering sum of about Rs 19.89 lakhs.
The taxpayers’ money was used to import the lavish ‘Deor Pearl Marble’ from Vietnam at a cost of about Rs 3 crores for renovating Arvind Kejriwal’s residence. Furthermore, it was reported that about Rs 21.60 lakhs was spent on mere chemicals used to fix the marble.
The report revealed that Rs 40 lakhs were spent to install 6 almirahs at the AAP leader’s residence. Furthermore, the official residence is equipped with two kitchens renovated at a cost of about Rs 63 lakhs.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Nalin Kohli slammed Arvind Kejriwal calling the AAP chief a pathological liar, stating that he says one thing today and does the exact opposite tomorrow, in an interview with Times Now. The BJP’s Delhi Unit tweeted stating “Corrupt Kejriwal spent crores of public money to get curtains, foreign marbles, wardrobes made in his palace.”
On April 26, the BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra said in a press conference “The headlines published in the newspapers today are not just the story of a Maharaj and his palace’s renovation but it is the story of the Maharaj’s mindset… I will loot everything, I will not leave anything… This is the story of the transformation in that Maharaj.”
However, AAP leader Raghav Chadha has defended the decision to renovate the AAP chief’s residence at staggering amounts. He claimed that the residence was built before independence and was becoming uninhabitable. Furthermore, he said that a PWD audit declared that the residence was unfit to live.
The AAP Government’s lavish overhaul of the CM’s official residence has invoked questions about the government’s priorities. It is pertinent to note that while the Delhi Government was renovating the AAP chief’s residence, various instances came to the fore about the government’s unpaid dues to teachers, doctors, legal researchers and contractors.
AAP Government’s non-payment of Salaries to legal researchers
Recently, the Delhi High Court has sought a response from the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi Government on its failure to clear the arrears of law researchers working with the High Court judges. The Court was hearing a plea filed by a group of law researchers working with the High Court judges.
The Court noted, “The grievance of the Law Researchers who are before the Court, is that they were functioning as Law Researchers during the relevant periods and the arrears has not been paid to them. Through RTI applications, it has been revealed that financial sanction for payment of arrears has not been issued by the GNCTD. Accordingly, the present writ petition has been filed seeking release of arrears in terms of the remuneration fixed by the High Court to the Petitioners and to other Law Researchers.”
AAP Government avoids payment for Sardar Patel Covid Centre
On March 24, the Court said it is a “very sorry state of affairs” that the Arvind Kejriwal-led Government is “trying to avoid their responsibility for making payments towards the construction of the largest COVID care facility with 10,000 beds.”
The Court observed, “Even after two years of successful completion of the work, the petitioner’s case for issuance of work orders has not seen the light of the day and the respondents are passing buck from one Department to another.”
The Court added, “Inspite of having undertaken the work of providing the services of Air conditioning, donning and doffing of the roof, water proofing of the roof, electricals to the entire system, infrastructure for the blood banks for the COVID care facility, the respondents have till date failed to even issue the work order to the petitioner for the work undertaken by it in construction of the so-called largest COVID care facility during such testing times.”
Doctors in Delhi go on strike over unpaid dues
Delhi doctors working at Rajan Babu and Hindu Rao hospitals went on strike on February 6 over unpaid dues and other long-standing issues. Earlier, doctors at the Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s (MCD) Kasturba Hospital had issued a strike warning over pending salaries since October 2022.
“We also feel humiliation, while asking parents and friends for money, despite working in a reputed hospital which is supposed to pay for work we do here. Many of us are sole earners in our families with many dependents,” reported the Indian Express report quoting letters as saying.
Further, they added that due to low bank balances, they were losing out on interest and fined for the negative balance. Along with the delayed salary, anxiety over job insecurity also took a toll, as many were on 44-day contracts. “We live in fear of losing our job as contract hoc culture is intentionally designed to deprive workers of benefits that come with regular/permanent employment,” the letter added.
Doctors said, “Lack of access to clean water at the workplace adversely affects the working condition. Rat, ticks, mosquito and mould-infested DDRs also contribute to this problem.”
Delhi University Teachers’ Association
In September 2022, the Delhi University Teacher’s Association (DUTA) urged the Government of India to take over colleges run by the Delhi Government claiming that teachers were not getting proper salaries due to budget cuts while political activists were being appointed as heads of governing bodies.
DUTA chief A K Bhagi also claimed that teachers had even held demonstrations outside Chief Minister Kejriwal’s house but to no avail.“Due to fund deficit, pay cut of teachers is happening since last two yrs in 12 colleges under Delhi government. We’ve held demonstrations outside CM’s house, gone to Deputy CM, nobody listened to us. We want the Central govt to take these colleges under its wings,” Bhagi said. The teachers’ body took a strong stance after the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College told staff members that a part of their salaries was being withheld due to fund-crunch.
“This problem has been going on for 5 years, earlier funds were delayed, but funds are being cut for the last two years. At present, there is a deficit of about 85 to 90 crores in 12 colleges funded by the Delhi government,” said Bhagi.