BY NIVEDITA SINGH
New Delhi, Oct 11 (IANS) While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was denied permission from the Central government for the C40 World Mayors Summit in Denmark, saying it was a “mayor-level” summit, then Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was part of the summit in 2007 and it was her most expensive foreign trip ever, according to information accessed through the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Dikshit went to New York in 2007 between May 14 and 17, and the trip cost Rs 7,49,995, the RTI sought by IANS said.
In her three terms as Chief Minister, Dikshit went on 25 foreign trips in different countries. While Kejriwal till December 2018 has only three foreign trips.
While Kejriwal’s two trips — to Rome in Italy (2016) and Seoul in South Korea (2018), were official, one was personal and its expenditure was borne by the Chief Minister personally.
His trip to Rome cost over Rs 6.5 lakh and that to Seoul was about Rs 3.5 lakh.
The Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday denied Kejriwal permission to visit Denmark to attend the C40 Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar said it was a “mayor-level” conference.
Before the current summit, the C40 had convened six Mayors Summits, hosted by London (2005), New York (2007), Seoul (2009), Sao Paulo (2011), Johannesburg (2014) and Mexico City (2016).
With 94 affiliated cities, the C40 had four active cities from India — Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru.
The Aam Aadmi Party alleged that while a West Bengal minister was allowed to attend the summit, Kejriwal was targeted.
“The political rivalry between AAP and BJP is known to all. It is very sad that this rivalry is being used for something which was for the people. The BJP at the Centre has been restricting the works done by the AAP government. They stopped various projects of the Delhi government before as well,” an AAP leader said.
The leader said similar incidents happened with Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia and Health Minister Satyendar Jain and both were denied permission to go abroad in order to talk about the achievements of the Delhi government.
“This is not the first time the Center has done this, earlier the same thing happened with ASisodia and Jain. The model of Delhi’s education revolution is being discussed across the world but Sisodia was not granted permission to present that model to the world. The same thing happened with Jain when he was supposed to talk about Mohallah Clinic project – one of the most discussed health models all over the world,” the leader added.
However, Kejriwal on Friday held a session on steps to tackle air pollution and addressed a joint press conference with mayors of Paris, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Portland and Lima through video-conferencing.
Kejriwal in his video address said Delhi faces challenges ranging from the Indo-Gangetic emissions, misaligned governance structures, and multiple government agencies with the common citizen bearing its greatest burden.
“Thus, the Delhi government has strived to make energy, mobility, water, infrastructure, health and education into a sustainable public good. These initiatives have led to a 25 per cent reduction in particulate emissions in three years, making Delhi a role model for Indian cities,” he said.
Kejriwal said the government’s clean air plan ahead focuses on an integrated system of governance with welfare outcomes and green solutions at its core.
“These include the creation of city-scale 269 water bodies, green scaping of 500 kms of roads and induction of 1,000 electric buses as well as several policies, programs and projects to curb air pollution,” he said.
(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)