- To reduce vehicular pollution Delhi needs to have 11,000 buses
- Currently, the Delhi government has 3944 DTC buses and 1645 cluster buses
- Supreme Court ordered 10,000 buses 19 long years ago
New Delhi: Delhi has one of the largest number of cars and two-wheelers plying on its roads in the world with number of registered vehicles crossing one crore mark in June 2017. Compares to that with the number of buses that make up Delhi’s public transport currently is 3,944 buses, whereas what Delhi needs is 11,000 buses. This huge gap in numbers highlights how Capital city of India lacks even the basic public transport infrastructure. It also explains why vehicles are responsible for a quarter of the pollution that has engulfed the city, as established by IIT-Kanpur study. It also explains why the Delhi government was forced to rollback odd-even traffic regulation scheme in the wake of the current pollution crisis.
While National Green Tribunal (NGT) gave a go ahead to the odd-even scheme with conditions like no exemptions for women and two-wheelers, the Delhi government rolled it back, citing lack of options of commute for lakhs who would look for public transport if suddenly a chunk of the two wheelers go off the roads. After all there are over 66 lakhs (66,48,730) registered two-wheelers in the city. NDTV examined the state of public transport in the national capital.
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Delhi’s need for 11,000 buses is around three times the current fleet. The Aam Aadmi party claims one of the reasons behind poor transportation has been the lack of land to keep the buses on.
Speaking to NDTV Aashish Khetan, AAP leader says,
As long as the procurement of buses is concerned, it’s a very contentious issue. It needs coordination between Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) because for every 100 buses procured, you need several acres of land. Without land you cannot procure more buses because you need to have depot for bus maintenance, servicing, and so on.
In May last year, the Supreme Court mandated panel, Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) said that there was no reason to delay adding 2,000 buses to Delhi streets.
According to senior officials at the Delhi transport department, the two major reasons for the delay are DDA dragging its feet on allotting more land to the transport authority and the time needed to construct the depots after acquiring the land.
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Currently, the government has 3944 Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses and 1645 cluster buses.
Supreme Court had ordered 10,000 buses 19 years ago. The fact is, not only that the city is no where near that figure of buses specified by the apex court two decades ago. The reality is that the last purchase order by Delhi DTC was made in 2009 with a mere 32 buses being the last addition to the current fleet in 2012.
The poor state of DTC clearly shows how both, the past and the current governments have failed in fixing Delhi‘s public transportation problems.
Last month a decision was taken to add 2,000 buses which were meant to be on the road in nine months. Depots for 1065 buses have been built over the last year and the construction of depots for 830 more buses is to start soon.
Gaurav Kumar Dubey, program manager, buses study, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), says,
If nothing is done then those buses will get phased out in the next 5 years or so. We could have a situation where we do not have any more buses running by DTC.
Hearing the Delhi government’s plea on November 14, NGT not only refused to allow exemptions, but it has also ordered removal of diesel vehicles over ten years off the roads. But seems like Delhi’s poor track record when it comes to public transport, is not likely to change any time soon.