The Public Works Department (PWD) did not start vacuuming roads as it could not buy the machines, despite deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia’s promise that all major roads would be vacuumed every week starting Friday.
The department faces problems finalising tenders, and the deadline to apply for the road vacuuming machine tenders has been pushed to November 18, PWD secretary Ashwani Kumar said.
“We are checking the authenticity of the bidders by the earnest money deposits (EMD). The deadline for the tender was November 10, but we had to move it to November 18,” said Kumar.
When pollution levels spiked in the Capital last week, Sisodia announced a slew of measures to control it, vacuuming of roads every week being one of it.
Water sprinkling to control dust, outdoor air purifiers, and mist fountains were other measures announced. Sisodia said the vacuuming of roads would start from Friday.
A shortage of companies supplying such machines is a major problem in making road vacuuming a routine in the city, senior government officials said. “Road vacuuming is still a new concept in India and that is the reason why there are fewer players supplying and making these. Gradually the system will build up,” an official said.
A source apportionment study of pollutants in Delhi’s air, by IIT Kanpur and released last year, says 38% of particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5), and 56% of PM 10 (particulate matter finer than 10 micrometers in diameter) in the air, is because of road dust.
Delhi government first announced mechanical sweepers for road vacuuming in April. Six machines were hired. However, after six months, they were returned.
“Several tenders were floated but we did not receive any response. The initial brief was that the company provide us with a multipurpose machine which could do the functions of road repair, vacuuming and also water the plants on the kerbs. But that was not met,” the official said.
PWD sources said potholes and uneven road surface posed problems to vacuuming roads.