No work done after first meeting with CM on G20… I am doing ‘ekla cholo’: Delhi L-G | Delhi News

As it prepares to welcome heads of states and governments from across the world for the G20 Summit next week, Delhi is being decked up. From road and footpath redesign to greening and lighting, parts of the city have undergone a major revamp. The assets created will be maintained even after the Summit ends, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena told Jatin Anand and Mallica Joshi. He spoke about working with the Aam Aadmi Party government in the city to ensure that visitors have a pleasant experience; his relationship with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the work that has gone into making Delhi G20-ready.

Q. What has changed in Delhi over the past few months, in the run-up to the G20 Summit?

There is tremendous change in Delhi. We have been working very hard for the last two months. We are on the road, you must have seen artefacts, statues, greenery. So yes, there is change. We are beautifying Delhi permanently, not just for G20. We are creating permanent assets. They will be maintained forever.

Q. Will the maintenance be done to match the same level as now?

Yes, absolutely. Contracts for maintenance of roads, fountains, artefacts and other assets have been given. I want Delhi to look like this, better than this actually.

Q. If you had more time, what would you have wanted to do for G20, especially if you were not in conflict with the Delhi government?

There is no conflict. From my side, there is no conflict.

Q. Is there a conflict from their side?

You can assume that.

Q. So is there anything else that you would have wanted to have been done?

In whatever time that we had, I am working very very hard. It is my duty, because I am heading the government. My duty is to also guide the government, which I am doing. The elected government has a different mindset and approach. Everyone has their own style of functioning. I am working in a different manner, they are working in a different manner.

Q. Is there a Laxman Rekha — a line that cannot be crossed — in terms of functioning after the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act has been amended?

As far as work is concerned, what can the Laxman Rekha be? If you have to clean Delhi and make it greener, you simply have to do it. You have no choice. For instance, the National Highways Authority of India, Central Public Works Department, the Indian Air Force and the Archaeological Survey of India are not under me, but they are all working in tandem, under one umbrella. They are getting commands and are executing them. A leader has to lead from the front.

Q. Is that missing from the Delhi government’s end?

I don’t want to say that, but I am doing my job. I will, however, say that it was their job. The L-G is not required to do such work but I am doing it and I am happy. I have no regrets. But yes, had they worked hard just for one out of the past nine years, the face of Delhi would have changed. When you can change it in two months, why not in nine years?

Q. What was it that they did not do for the past one year that you have been in office?

I don’t know. I have decided that I had to do it and I did it. I have been very very clear. I have faced no obstruction. Yes, there will be some problems. If we are together, it is better.

Q. Does it appear that it is not a joint front? Is cooperation missing from the elected government’s end?

Yes, there is no doubt about it. When I called the first meeting regarding G20, the CM was present, the ministers were also there and we decided what was to be done. But nothing moved after that. It is fine. I am doing ekla cholo (walking alone)… My vision is to see Delhi as a beautiful city. It is the National Capital, it should be beautiful.

Q. With seven days to go for the Summit, what worries you? What keeps you up at night?

Nothing worries me, we are fully ready. We are monitoring everything very closely. Every day is a challenge for us. Security arrangements are in place, cleanliness is very important and we are ensuring that. Cleaning during the day will not be done during the Summit owing to security concerns, it will be done at night. Everything has been planned minutely to ensure there is no hindrance or bottleneck. If there is waterlogging, if there is heavy rain, we are prepared for that. If there is an incident, we are prepared.

Q. What is L-G VK Saxena’s guide to Delhi for visiting delegates?

They must go to Qutub Minar, it’s a beautiful place. The Lal Qila is a lovely place. We have recently developed Baansera, which is a must visit. It is a lush green area, which is very difficult to find in Delhi. Plus some market areas. The St James Church is also one place that people should visit. It has recently been restored to its original glory.

Q. Who has spent the money for Delhi’s revamp? The Aam Aadmi Party government has said that all the money has been spent from their end. Is that true?

Thousands of crores have not been spent on the projects. I don’t know where this figure came from. NDMC has spent around Rs 60 crore. The artefacts, fountains etc have been gifted under Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. We made requests and they were given to us. If we had to procure them, tenders would have had to be issued, making it a long-drawn process. Artisans do not even participate in the tendering process… Let the government say they spent all the money. This is childish. I can’t say more… This is untrue. I say this with authority.

Q. AAP MLAs have filed a complaint against you over the installation of Shivling fountains. What do you have to say about that?

I have said this before and I am repeating it — those are not Shivlings. They are art pieces. God exists in every grain, what will you respect and what are you going to disrespect? You worship rivers but you turn them into drains… it is their thinking. If they see God in those fountains, it is good.

Q. What is your relationship with the Chief Minister (Arvind Kejriwal) like? How often do you meet him?

I have an excellent relationship with him. He comes to meet me and invites me as well. We are supposed to meet every Friday but he is busy so he is not able to make it. There is no enmity. What can I say, I have no grudge against him. I am a very satisfied man, I am doing my job. I am doing what has been assigned to me. There are hindrances but they are a part of the game. You can’t take it to mean that because there is a problem you can’t accomplish something. You have to resolve the issues. You have to find a solution.

Q. Do you get support from him to find that solution?

That is tough. I have no hesitation in saying that he has his own political compulsions.

Q. What are the three things that you think need to be done to bring the offices of the L-G and the CM at a non-confrontational pass?

The CM has some political compulsions. He has told me as much. It is because of this that a lot of things do not happen. Maybe he has to make it seem like we are fighting with each other. He is a politician, I am not. I am a workhorse and I am ready to work 24×7.

Q. What are the challenges you faced in the run up to the Summit?

When we started cleaning the roads, the challenge was garbage. We removed 15,000 metric tonnes from the roads. After the cleaning, we came across vacant spaces along roads. Tackling them was the next challenge. Once we cleaned the airport road, we were shocked, We didn’t know there was so much space. We decided to use that space to put up fountains, statues and plants. Every statue and fountain has been planned meticulously.

Q. What has your involvement been in picking the artefacts, the design and deciding the overall look and feel of Delhi roads? Did you have a particular theme in mind?

I went to Jaipur and Odisha specially to select stones, artefacts and designs. India is the most powerful country now. The lion is a symbol of power and that is why statues of lions have been installed at the entrance (near the airport). You must have seen elephants as well. They represent depth. We have installed statues of horses, which symbolises speed, which is in line with the Government of India’s Gati Shakti scheme. The lion and the horse represent both power and speed. Water fountains have been installed for a soothing effect. We want to exhibit our culture and heritage to the delegates. We have installed statues of Yakshinis, who protect wealth in our mythology. There is a Buddha statue as well.

Q. Do you have any plans to ensure that flooding at the scale that we saw in July doesn’t recur?

I sent a detailed plan to the CM, where I did not criticise him. I used my past experience and said this is the way ahead. Now it is up to him to take it forward… There has been no communication from him since.

Q. Have you and the CM spoken about concerns related to G20?

Last month, we spoke about Public Works Department files related to pending road work. He got them cleared. I said why look at this from a political angle, this is for the city. But the question that arises is why do things that should happen as per routine require special requests… I am very clear in my mind. There should be no politics when it comes to development.

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Q. Over the past few days, AAP has alleged that you are taking credit for the work done by its government. What is your response?

What we are doing is not a fight about credit or debit. I believe that Delhi and its people deserve a neat, clean and a beautiful city. If someone gets satisfaction from claiming credit, I have no objection. We will keep doing our work.

Q. After G20, what is your next big project?

For now, my project is to beautify and clean the city. From September 16 onward, I will start work on this with the same speed and vigour, with the same team. I have to beautify the city. This city deserves better.

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