Arvinder Singh Lovely, the new minister for education and transport, might find himself on familiar grounds while handling education. But it is the transport department which might prove to be a big challenge.
In an interview with Atul Mathur and Swaha Sahoo, Lovely discusses how he plans to deal with these issues.
Question: The BRT has been under severe criticism especially for having bus lane in the center. That is probably the reason why the government is dabbling with two different designs on one corridor. Is the government still confused?
Answer: There is no confusion. The BRT as a concept is very good and will definitely be implemented. Keeping in mind the volume of traffic and the area along the corridor, different models will be tried. The roads, which have more residential colonies on either side and lots of smaller roads merging with the corridor, will have bus lanes in the centre and stretches which have fewer internal roads merging with it will have bus lane on the left side. A proper study has been conducted on this.
Question: Commonwealth Games are just 18 months away and most transport projects are running behind schedule. How are you going to expedite these projects?
Answer: I am going to set deadlines and officers will be given responsibility for each task. They will be held accountable. I am going to have my first meeting with the transport department on Wednesday and everything will be streamlined soon.
Question: Overcharging and refusal to go are two major complaints against auto-rickshaw drivers. How are you going to rein them?
Answer: There is definitely a need to discipline auto-rickshaws and taxis. We will very soon launch a drive against them. It is one of my top priorities.
Question: Do you think increasing taxes on vehicles or levying congestion charge will help arrest the problem of increasing number of vehicles?
Answer: Levying taxes is definitely not a solution. Unless we provide them with better substitute - good, luxurious buses, which take less time than car to reach their destination - they are not going to shift to public transport.
Question: There is a shortage of government schools as children have been refused admission due to overcrowding. How do you plan to accommodate such children?
Answer: I don't agree that there is shortage of schools. We have 1,062 schools and no child is denied admission. In 2007, I had opened one new school every 25 days. We cannot build schools faster than that anywhere in India.
Question: What is your priority going to be in the education department in the next five years?
Answer: Now that results have improved across government schools, I will focus on improving infrastructure facilities like toilets, drinking water and safety measures in existing schools as well as building new schools.