APURVA & geeta gupta NEW DELHI, JANUARY 20
On a day that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his council of ministers staged a sit-in protest outside the Rail Bhawan, the Delhi Secretariat took up temporary residence with them. Even as secretaries of government departments were forced to shift base to where their ministers sat, the CM scrutinised at least 50 files on the footpath of the Rail Bhawan traffic island.
A senior Delhi government official said Kejriwal was well prepared for this eventuality.
“The CM knew this protest might last late into the day. All through Monday, the CM office was busy at work at the traffic island. In all, three boxes of files were taken there and all were cleared by the CM,” the official said.
According to sources, Kejriwal scrutinised a file on the upcoming Swaraj Bill — a big-ticket issue for the AAP government. The Swaraj Bill is connected to the forming of mohalla sabhas.
“The CM went through the file which mentioned methods through which the MLA Local Area Development (MLALAD) funds could possibly be withdrawn,” a senior official said.
When asked, a spokesperson for the CMO said, “The CM’s office is where the CM is. It is not necessary for him to only conduct all his work in the Secretariat.” Another government official said that secretaries to all the remaining Cabinet ministers were also present at the Rail Bhawan. “The government has to keep running regardless where the ministers are,” he said.
Sources also said Kejriwal went through and cleared files regarding the Delhi Jal Board and the Power department. The CM heads both departments, which are the centrepiece of the AAP government’s promises after assuming office. While power rates have been slashed by 50 per cent up to 400 units of consumption, the government has also promised 700 liters of free water per day per household.
Additional Secretary (Power) Ankur Garg had also come to get “some routine files” signed by the chief minister. The board of directors of the power companies under the Delhi government have not been changed after the bureaucratic reshuffle in the Delhi government. With a new secretary for power and a new chief secretary in the administration, the CM needed to sign the file for changing the names.
Meanwhile, Kejriwal skipped a meeting of the Urban Development Ministry, where a proposal to include Jind and Karnal in the NCR was cleared.