Delhi air pollution: EPCA slams govt for doing 'too little' to augment bus fleet, public transportation in city

New Delhi: Delhi government has adequate land to park up to 2,000 buses, the Supreme Court-mandated pollution watchdog EPCA said on Friday, criticising the AAP dispensation for having done "too little" to augment the city's public transport.

Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority chairperson Bhure Lal, in a letter to Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot, also wondered why the Delhi government announced that it would enforce the odd-even scheme before the EPCA could assess the situation.

The government's "lack of action" has led to the weakening of measures implemented under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), the EPCA said, citing its decision to lift the four-fold hike in parking fees.

 Delhi air pollution: EPCA slams govt for doing too little to augment bus fleet, public transportation in city

Traffic policemen wear masks to protect themselves from heavy smog in Delhi. PTI

EPCA was countering Gahlot's charge that they "kept quiet" over obligations of the National Capital Region (NCR) states to combat pollution while the Delhi government was criticised for "flip-flop" over the odd-even scheme.

"In our May 2016 report, after working with the DDA, we had explained that there was land available for parking of 2000 buses within the available infrastructure. However, we find that as yet, no buses have been procured," Lal wrote.

The Delhi Cabinet has recently approved a proposal to purchase 2,000 standard size CNG buses to strengthen the depleting fleet of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).

The EPCA had also pitched for multi-level parking for better utilisation of land in DTC terminals, Lal said, adding that the DDA (Delhi Development Authority) had made changes in the master plan to allow such structures.

"But we are finding it difficult to identify what actions have been taken by your government to speed up the procurement of buses for which parking space is available," the EPCA chief said, stressing on the need to avoid "finger-pointing".

On Gahlot's contention, that the EPCA needs to advise cities in the NCR to implement measures under the GRAP as well, Lal replied that the neighbouring states were, in fact, doing more than their share in some cases due to which Delhi stands to benefit.

He cited the example of EPCA directing them to shut stone crushers, brick kilns and hot mix plants and also their "cooperation" in diverting non-destined (to Delhi) trucks and also allowing turn-around of trucks in their states.

"Not to say that this is enough. At the onset of winter, pollution is on all days at the very poor level and efforts of governments must ensure that this situation improves and certainly does not get worse. The current air quality is not acceptable... Finger-pointing will not suffice. Action will," he wrote.

Lal made it clear that EPCA had not directed the Delhi government to enforce the odd-even scheme, as the Central Pollution Control Board was of the opinion that weather would improve by 11 or 12 November.

"However, even before EPCA could assess the situation and communicate its decision, your government decided to announce the implementation of odd-even from 13 November," he said, adding that the EPCA was not in favour of any exemptions.

Updated Date: Nov 17, 2017 19:28:56 IST