Living in Delhi gets costlier - thanks to Commonwealth Games (Roundup)

March 22nd, 2010 - 10:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) Delhiites will now have to pay more for domestic cooking gas, diesel, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), high-end mobile phones and other essential household items like tea and coffee — thanks to Commonwealth Games.
Delhi’s Finance Minister A.K. Walia Monday presented the annual budget of the national capital for 2010-11 in the Delhi Legislative Assembly. Walia announced withdrawal of subsidy of Rs.40 on LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) amid protests from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led opposition.

The minister proposed an increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) on diesel, CNG, mobile phones and accessories above Rs.10,000, watches and readymade garments above Rs.5,000, fertilizers, kerosene, coffee, tea, desi ghee, dry fruits, kesar (saffron), glucose-D, household plastic items, utensils and cutlery items and inverters.

Justifying the hike in budget, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said: “The subsidy was given for LPG when the inflation rate was very high. A lot have been spent on the infrastructure in the wake of the Commonwealth Games.”

“There has been a lot of developmental work in the city and more to happen. A lot more money is needed and the government has no option but to slightly burden the people to incur the losses,” she said.

Walia told reporters: “The prices of diesel would go up by Rs.2.37 per litre and CNG (used in vehicles) to get costlier by Rs.1.09 per kg. As far as subsidy on gas is concerned, no other state was giving it. We could not have afforded it anymore.”

In Delhi, diesel that was available at Rs.35.47 per litre would now cost Rs.37.84 and CNG that at present costs Rs.21.70 per kg would now cost Rs.22.79 per kg.

“This is a growth-oriented budget keeping in mind the Commonwealth Games and ‘aam aadmi’. We have exhausted all our resources as we have spent (so) much on Commonwealth Games project. We need more money,” he added.

The minister said that the increase in VAT will bring an additional revenue of approximately Rs.850 crore. The increased prices will come into effect from April.

The total budget estimates for 2010-11 are Rs.26,000 crore that include Rs.11,200 crore for plan expenditure, Rs.140 crore for expenditure on centrally-sponsored schemes and Rs.14,660 crore for non-plan expenditure.

The BJP criticised the budget proposals saying they are “anti-poor and anti-common man”.

“Prices of everything in Delhi are sky-rocketing, this additional burden will badly affect the common masses. BJP will strongly oppose this budget,” said Leader of Opposition in the assembly V.K. Malhotra.

“Delhiites are already suffering from inflation. This budget will further increase their woes. The government is out to kill the common man,” said BJP leader Harshvardhan.

Delhi Congress chief and MP from northeast Delhi J.P. Agarwal said: “Delhi’s budget was not discussed with me.”

The hike in diesel, CNG and LPG cylinder price came as a shocker for Delhiites.

“I am disappointed as rising food price are pinching the monthly budget and this will add salt to injury. I believe they could have withdrawn the subsidy from cooking fuel only after taming food prices,” said Sanjay Nanda, a young professional.

Delhi government has spent nearly Rs.15,000 crore on various Commonwealth Games related projects.

There has been widespread development - beautification, flyovers, street scaping, foot over bridges, roads, signages, public transport and health facilities - in the city for Commonwealth Games to be held from Oct 3-14.

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