Delhi govt seeks Rs 4,000 cr to augument transport system

Delhi: Delhi government today demanded a special package of Rs 4,000 crore from the Centre to augment public transport in the national capital and pitched for a rise in its share of central taxes, which was last revised "15 years" ago, to at least Rs 5,000 crore.

An annual 'Basic and Performance Grant' of Rs 2,000 crore was sought for the city's three cash-strapped civic bodies. Employees of the municipal corporations have struck work for over a week demanding timely payment of salaries and clearance of dues.

These were among the demands presented by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia for the Union Budget at the pre-budget consultation with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley here. Sisodia also backed the Goods and Service Tax (GST) Bill at the earliest whose passage Congress has stalled in the Rajya Sabha.

Sisodia said the package would help boost the public transport system in the city that has come under intense scrutiny since the fortnight-long implementation of the odd- even car rationing scheme and its proposed come back to tackle air pollution.

"A special package of Rs 4,000 crore from the central government is required for purchase of 5,000 additional buses of different categories and segments which will encourage citizens to shift to public transport.

"Delhi should be treated at par with other states for share in central taxes which has remained stagnant at Rs 325 crore since 2001-02. This will enable Delhi to get at least Rs 5,000 crore per annum as share in central taxes," Sisodia said.

The government has recommended that an increase in the excise duty on diesel vehicles can be explored because of their "adverse effect" on air quality. "Increase VAT on diesel vehicles will lead to opening up of geographical tax arbitrage." Highlighting a set of "peculiar" problems faced by Delhi, Sisodia said Delhi is deprived of resources required for investments.

"Land is a valuable resource, which we don't have. We don't control land use. We don't have share in central taxes. Our tax base is narrow because 87.5 per cent of Gross State Domestic Product is from services," he said.

Sisodia urged the BJP-ruled Centre to formulate a scheme to address agrarian crisis and farmer distress and compensate Rs 50,000 per hectare for crop damage, as announced at the local level by ruling AAP.

"The Centre should implement recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission report. Minimum Support Price (MSP) should be at least 50 per cent more than the weighted average cost of production. Fair and remunerative MSP for diverse

crops, including pulses, millets, and oilseeds, through direct procurement or timely market intervention," the Delhi government said.

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