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NDMC to present budget today; last year's announcements still on paper

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) is set to present its annual budget on Wednesday, but a slew of announcements made in last year's budget are still on paper and yet to take off.

New Delhi: The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) is set to present its annual budget on Wednesday, but a slew of announcements made in last year's budget are still on paper and yet to take off.

While there is no clarity on whether or not any of those projects have been scrapped, the budget for 2016-17 is likely to focus on the 'Smart City' project, for which it is in the race.

The budget estimate of 2015-16 had an expenditure of Rs 3,126 crore and receipt of Rs 3,153 crore with a surplus of Rs 27 crore.

In the last budget, NDMC had proposed to procure at least 0.25 per cent electricity (of its total power needs) from waste-to-energy plants, but that plan, too, remains on paper.

Further, a proposal to set up 18,500 'smart' electricity poles and projects to start a world-class football academy, a skill development training centre, and an all-women's cab service, among others, are in limbo since their announcement in January last year.

NDMC officials claim that the projects have either failed to take off or are pending due to change in the departmental heads. "The civic-body had no chairman for over three months last year.

A few projects suffered due to the transition phase. Then there was the reshuffling of certain departmental heads which also positively or negatively affected the pace of projects," said a senior NDMC official who did not wish to be named.

In the previous year's budget, the civic body had allocated Rs 150.37 crore for education services, including the setting up of technology-enabled classrooms in five NDMC schools, a state-of-the-art technical institute for boys for job-oriented skill development on the lines of ITIs and establishment of library-cum-reading rooms in four areas of which two were to be for boys and the rest for girls. However, no progress has been made vis-a-vis these proposals.

An ambitious project for replacing 18,500 streetlight poles with LED lights, mount CCTV cameras on them and provide Wi-Fi services simultaneously ran into legal trouble after NDMC signed a letter of intent with Indus Towers and Reliance Jio challenged in Delhi High Court the terms of the tender as being vague.

For its plan to set up several waste-to-energy plants, the civic body had zeroed in on three technologies - methanisation, pyrolytic gasification and hybrid gasification.

While the first two technologies are off the table, the civic body had awarded a 210-tonne waste concession agreement for the setting up of three plants to a Hong Kong-based company, Elephant Energy Pvt Ltd, the first of which is awaiting a Power Purchase Agreement from Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) for the past four months. 

Other projects for which NDMC had floated tenders a year back but that did not see the light of day include the setting up of an open air restaurant on Palika Bazaar's rooftop, art streets on Kharak Singh Marg, installation of 'smart signages' for heritage sites and monuments and allotment of smart ID cards to street vendors.

Current chairman Naresh Kumar took over as the civic body chief in June last year after his predecessor Jalaj Srivastava was moved to the Ministry of Agriculture.

NDMC is also in race for Urban Development Ministry's Smart City initiative and, according to officials, the budget for next year is likely to focus on the same.