You are in charge of several ministries, which one do you find the most challenging?
I think it is health. Healthcare in this city is a huge challenge as so many people from across the country come here… This department has been hugely neglected by previous governments. Our hospitals are designed so that patients are the last priority. We are trying to change that… During one of my rounds at Lok Nayak hospital I found there were only 18 beds in the emergency ward. This is our biggest, centrally located hospital, where thousands of patients come… We will soon open a 600-bed emergency block with ICUs and CCUs.
Whathave been your achievements in the health sector?
We started with a promise to decentralise health systems by introducing mohalla clinics as the primary level of care and polyclinics as the second level to reduce crowd from government hospitals. We have finalised blueprints of five new blocks in various hospitals. Our aim is to double government hospital beds from 10,000 to 20,000 by December 2017.
We are trying to bring a health insurance system which will be the best in the country. We have achieved what was seen as the biggest hurdle in government hospitals, providing free medicines, to a great extent. We improved EWS bed occupancy from 30 to 70-75 per cent in private hospitals. In the next year, we will computerise the health system from mohalla clinics to referral hospitals.
Last year, only one mohalla clinic was set up in your constituency against your promise of 1,000. No new hospitals have been announced. How far have you delivered on your promises?
I would like to fulfill my three-year target in one year but unfortunately that is not realistic. The mohalla clinic was four to five month-long pilot project. We have now identified certain problems that we can improve upon. Next year, we will open all 1,000 mohalla clinics. Similarly, after starting the first polyclinic in Kanti Nagar, we had to get feedback before starting new ones. More than 80 per cent have access to government facilities for the first time. Work is underway to build new hospitals in five areas where we have land. I had written to the Delhi Development Authority over 10 months ago to provide us land for hospitals… Even if we do not get land, we will double the bed strength in government hospitals from 10,000 to 20,000 by using every inch of space…
What about PWD projects? You said work on elevated roads would be completed by the end of this year. How have you fared in this department?
I was the sort of student who would tell his parents he was getting 100 per cent in exams. Then if I got 95per cent I would get scolded, but at least I worked to get 100 per cent. Even if work has not been completed, 95 per cent of the work is done…There are no complaints about potholes… whatever complaints were there have been resolved. I keep getting a lot of complaints about the roads in Azadpur Mandi but that is under the municipal bodies. We have announced 10 new elevated corridors, the longest among them from Anand Vihar-Punjabi Bagh-Tikri border is 40 km. Three of these will be two-tiered and rest single-tiered. By April, we will start dusting roads as well.
What have been your biggest achievements?
The work we have done in the power sector has gone largely unrecognised. The rates of power have increased in Haryana and UP by multiple folds. We did not let rates increase in Delhi. I think that is a huge achievement. Take health… despite all the criticism on the dengue crisis, there were no deaths in Delhi government hospitals from dengue. People are dying of swine flu in Gujarat and Rajasthan but we have kept the situation in control in Delhi.
What was your biggest challenge in the last one year?
I think the biggest challenge is that people’s expectations have increased. People think they have voted their government into power so they want more from us, their aspirations have changed. We have changed so much in different areas in so little time. We welcome criticism… it helps us improve, but I do not think any government has produced as much result as us.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines