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Speed governors? Surely not for beasts on wheels

There are countless court directives ordering speed governors for Delhi’s famously unruly Blueline buses. But it has been such a battle, report Nagendar Sharma and Yashwant Raj.

delhi Updated: Sep 04, 2007 01:39 IST

It’s not much of a device, it wasn’t engineered in Silicon Valley and it's certainly nothing that could challenge scientists at BARC. It’s a measly speed governor, easy to make and trip. But who cares?

There are countless court directives ordering speed governors for Delhi’s famously unruly Blueline buses. But it has been such a battle. In this part of the world, speed matters.

Traffic policemen on duty ignore Bluelines racing each other, but will flag down some creaky, overloaded tempo for violating inner-city freight rules. That’s easy money for both the treasury and the family till.

Here is how Delhiites perceive Bluelines. The Hindustan Times has been flooded with mails from readers on the Killerlines series. One of them wrote, “Each Blueline bus pays Rs 600 to the traffic police every month.”

Is that true? There is no way of pinning it down. The police will never admit it, and the Bluelines, which are paying, will never say or do anything to disturb their cozy deal with the police.

But think about it — how often to you find a Blueline bus pulled up by the side of the road by men in white shirts and blue pants?

Probably not as often as an overloaded van or a two-wheeler with a Haryana number.

The police don’t care. The transport department doesn’t care.

“Did it make any difference to anyone in the capital or the rest of the country?” asked Yashpal Sharma. He lost his 14-year-old son Karan to a speeding Blueline bus in Vikaspuri on July 8.

“Nobody has contacted me after I lost my only son. The police did not bother to tell me whether any arrest was made and the state government does not have time for ordinary people like me nor does any other political party,” he said.

Probably not. Another Blueline bus claimed another victim the day after, and the day after and the day after. A 35-year-old housewife came under a bus that couldn't wait to take off after dropping her at the Moti Bagh stop.

What do you think the bus driver did? Ran away, of course.

“I am really sad to say nobody is bothered about this. It is lack of governance clearly… Is there any other example of a metro city in the world where public transport carriers kill?” said former chief justice of India V.N. Khare.

No one cares and the funny thing is everyone has given up on everyone else.

The police plead helplessness in making buses use speed governors. “We have found during the checking of Blueline buses that operators and drivers have found a way to tamper with these,” said traffic police chief Qamar Ahmed.

The bus operators say they are the mercy of their drivers. “Every morning drivers decide the route they would be driving on and we have to heed to their demands, as we do not have enough drivers for all the buses,” said an operator.

The drivers on the other hand, blame operators.

Check this. Transport Department of Delhi Government has conceded that 60 per cent of the Bluelines are actually unfit for use.

In response to an RTI application filed by NGO Chetna, the department said, “More than 3,129 buses were found to be plying without/invalid certificates of fitness between April 2005 and October 2006. The owners were required to obtain valid certificates’.

So, who will ensure only road-worthy buses ply — the National Gallery of Modern Art?