At a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is blaming the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for the migrant workers’ crisis in the national capital, AAP lawmaker and Delhi Jal Board vice-chairman Raghav Chadha has taken pot shots at the saffron party leaders, saying “none of the BJP leaders are on ground, they are busy watching Netflix at their homes.”
In an interview with IANS, the AAP MLA from Rajinder Nagar said that the BJP leaders were sitting in air-conditioned rooms within the confines of their homes, playing Ludo, watching Netflix or sharing videos on social media.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q: The opposition has been repeatedly saying that the migrants’ crisis is one of the biggest failures of the AAP government. What is your response to that?
A: This is not the time to do politics. It hurts when the opposition leaders, who haven’t even stepped out of their air-conditioned rooms and are spending their time streaming Netflix, make such comments. The people responsible for the migrants’ crisis in India are from the BJP.
The crisis is not just confined to Delhi, but migrants have been walking from all the other states as well just because the Central government did not think about their plight. It can be their lethargic attitude that they did not try to figure out ways to send the migrants back home. That’s the reason they are facing such hardships.
My only question here is, if you can send aircraft to bring back rich NRIs stranded abroad, why can’t these poor migrants be provided with buses or trains to help them reach their hometowns? Why no arrangements were made for the?
Q: With peak summers approaching, how does the Delhi Jal Board plan to tackle the problems of water supply amid the Covid-19 outbreak?
A: Yes, it’s definitely a challenge, especially given that we are dealing with a health crisis. Water is an essential commodity and we are working towards its improved supply. We have formulated the summer action plan and have released it a few days back. It outlines our supply plans. It also talks about the supply of water in the problematic areas, involving our plans to recharge the underground water levels and create water reservoirs. It also includes our plans to allocate tankers to supply water in regions facing short supply.
Q: After a long pause, economic activities have again started in Delhi. How much time do you think the Delhi government will take to make up for the losses and how will it be done?
A: Losses are for everybody. From a person having a job to the person running his own business, everybody has been hit. Similarly, the government too has suffered losses. Because of the lockdown, all economic activities were shut. Now slowly Delhi is starting to get back its grip on the economy.
In the present circumstances, the most important thing is to save the lives of the people and the AAP government is doing its best to provide best healthcare services to the people.
If we look at the revenue side, we were supposed to generate revenues of Rs 4,000 crore in April, which were to be used by the Delhi Jal Board for its services, for paying salaries to the workers, paramedics and so on. The government suffered huge losses as the revenue generated amounted to only Rs 400 crore. We also hope that we will get some sort of financial support from the Central government to tide over the economic crisis.
Q: While the economy is starting to open up, people seem to be not taking social distancing norms seriously. How does the Delhi government plan to deal with the situation and contain the spread of Covid-19?
A: It’s in the hands of the people to stay safe from coronavirus. If you wear a mask, maintain social distancing norms, keep washing your hands regularly, you can fight the virus. If you don’t, you will put your own health in danger. But we have complete faith in the citizens or Delhi, who helped the government win the battle against dengue last year. We pray and believe that the people of Delhi will do their bit by following all the safety measures issued by the government.
Q: What steps have been taken to bring back students stranded outside Delhi? Also, how innovative are the measures taken by the Delhi Jal Board?
A: First of all, the budget has nothing to do with the summer action plan. Funds are required to set up water plants, big projects, purchase machineries and put supply pipes in the small colonies. The plan is formulated every summer, but this time it has been released with certain in-depth works as these are not the usual times. Given that it is summer time and the city is in the grip of a pandemic, more and more people are staying indoors. The government is making the efforts to ensure adequate water supply.
As far as students are concerned, since the lockdown was imposed, there have been restrictions on inter-state travel. The Central government later issued guidelines under which we could send people back to their states. We sent buses to Kota to bring back students to Delhi. We are trying our best to bring back more of them.
The thing is, the states where they are stuck should also allow them to cross their borders. If that doesn’t happen, there emerges a problem. I would like to ask where are the BJP leaders now? All the AAP leaders are on the ground providing aid to the people. But their leaders cannot be seen anywhere.
Q: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a press briefing a few days back that there was good coordination between the Centre and the Delhi government. Can you tell us about this coordination?
A: We have some ideological issues with the BJP. But since we are in the middle of a pandemic, the AAP government is working supportively with the Central government, with the respected Prime Minister, Home Minister and Delhi Police. No government can deal with such a crisis alone. We all need to work together in this battle to defeat Covid-19.