Delhi Lt governor, AAP trade charges over home delivery of services

Unexpected support came for Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal from the opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha in his tussle with lieutenant governor Anil Baijal.

The latest flashpoint between Kejriwal and the Delhi LG is over the home delivery of services planned by the Delhi government. The LG has stalled the scheme on the ground of safety.

On Thursday, voices in support of Kejriwal came in the Rajya Sabha from leaders of four parties, which accused the Centre of treating the Delhi CM as a ''chaprasi'' (peon).

Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal told the Rajya Sabha that the Delhi government is not allowed to have any power and the LG treats the CM as a ''chaprasi''. Agarwal sought more powers for Delhi's Aam Aadmi Party government. Leaders from Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party (Marxist) echoed the concerns raised by Agarwal.

Rajya Sabha deputy chairman P J Kurien asked Union urban development minister Hardeep Singh Puri to take some steps to resolve the differences. Puri promised he would try to negotiate peace between LG and the CM, but said it wouldn't be easy.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government and the LG issued statements on their respective standpoints. ''A misplaced parallel is being drawn between the current proposal and ecommerce. There is no technology so far to download pizza … whereas most of the proposed services in the government's proposal can be downloaded online,'' a statement issued by LG Baijal's office said.

''Moreover, delivery of pizza… can also not be compared with the documents proposed to be delivered through the 'mobile sahayaks' as the latter would involve sensitive personal information. Further, unlike ecommerce, a business-to-consumer transaction, the government has to be more sensitive and responsive to safety and security concerns in the proposed system … a government-to-consumer transaction,'' the statement said.

Earlier, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia had compared the delivery of services to that of pizzas.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the AAP government said, ''The example of pizza delivery, gas cylinders and insurance was given to counter some of the objections raised by the LG.'' The government also said that while many services are already digitised end-to-end, a large number of people are unable to use it. ''Internet is not an easy medium for everyone to use; many are not tech-savvy enough to use the internet,'' statement said.

Proposals blocked
Having invited proposals from companies and conducted a pre-bid meeting earlier this month, the Delhi government's project for home delivery of services has stalled as the LG has blocked the move.

The Delhi Cabinet had on 16 November passed a proposal for doorstep delivery of 40 government services, including applications for marriage certificates, driving licences, water connections and caste certificates. On Tuesday, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia announced that the LG had returned the file raising objections to the proposal.

The LG highlighted the possibility of corruption and potential safety and security threats if mobile 'sahayaks' or helpers engaged by a private company were to visit homes and help with applications.

Before this week's back and forth between the AAP government and Raj Niwas, the Administrative Reforms Department had on 15 December already floated a request for proposal (RFP) inviting companies to bid before 8 January. A pre-bid meeting had also taken place.

According to the tender document, companies with a turnover of Rs20 crore in the last three financial years and engaged in similar operations, which covers IT application development, data centre operations and logistics of goods and services, will be eligible.

Defining the scope of the project, the tender document says the agency would have to develop the application, run a data centre and engage and train the mobile sahayaks. The project would include mobile sahayaks equipped with tablet computers and iris and fingerprint scanners for Aadhaar-based biometric authentication.

According to deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, a total of 25 lakh people had availed of these 40 services last year, with each having to make several visits to the government offices concerned. While the facilitation fee has not been decided, and would be decided by the bids, Sisodia said it would be a ''nominal amount like Rs50''.

With the LG and the AAP government locked in a disagreement, the project's future remains uncertain.