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Delhi’s new chief minister halves power costs Another top campaign pledge fulfilled

NEW DELHI, Jan 1, (AFP): As a new year’s gift to the Indian capital, its new chief minister announced Tuesday the government will slash power costs by half, fulfilling another top campaign pledge a day after he promised a free supply of water. The Aam Aadmi (“common man”) Party Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, who missed his first day in the office Monday due to an upset stomach, chaired a cabinet meeting Tuesday to announce electricity rates would be halved starting Jan 1, 2014 till March 31, 2014. “The subsidy will apply to those consuming less than 400 units of power and help 280,000 consumers in Delhi,” Kejriwal told a late Tuesday press conference.

Kejriwal has asked the national auditor to review alleged financial irregularities by private power distribution companies by March end, after which the cabinet would take a fresh call on the power rates. Only two days into his job, the anti-corruption champion implemented two key campaign promises to slash power costs and supply free water. Not only that, but he also stuck to his word on greater transparency on Monday when he tweeted freely about the “Delhi belly” that had spoiled his first day. Twitter was abuzz when Kejriwal tweeted about his “severe loose motions”, overshadowing his achievement in supplying nearly 700 litres of water per day to consumers in a city of some 16 million.

Critics have said giving out free water will encourage wastefulness in a country where water is in short supply. Kejriwal, whose pledge to fight for India’s “common man” won over voters in New Delhi state polls, had been set to start governing the capital on Monday after being sworn in at the weekend. The Aam Aadmi party, which was born out of an anticorruption mass movement two years ago, is leading the Delhi government with outside support from the Congress party, which rules nationally but was pushed to a distant third place in the Delhi elections.

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