The state government on Thursday informed the Bombay high court that it was necessary to improve the public transport system before undertaking an exercise to regulate the number of vehicles entering the city by introducing odd-even formula.
SK Nair, special counsel for the state, said that the public transport system in the city is already under tremendous pressure. “Before doing anything else, we have to improve and enhance capacity of the public transport system,” he said.
On an average, each suburban train carries 4,700 commuters as against the capacity of 1,600 and during peak hours, BEST buses are transport as many as 12 passengers per square meter, which is double the capacity,” Nair added.
Nair submitted that the government has appointed two expert committees to discuss ways to enhance capacity of public transport and sought time to place before the court their views.
Nair was responding to two public interest litigations about the increasing pollution in the city and consequent decrease in the air quality index. One of the PILs is filed by activist Shadaab Patel seeking introduction of odd-even experiment to regulate number of four wheelers on roads in Mumbai to improve city’s air quality index.
The other petition is filed by Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG) in 1999. The NGO has also filed a plea seeking implementation of recommendations made by VM Lal committee – to restrain number of vehicles on roads in Mumbai.
The division bench of justice VM Kanade and justice Revati Mohite-Dere has asked Nair to place on record the steps taken by the state government to curb vehicular pollution in Mumbai and what the government proposes to do further. The bench has also directed the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to file either a report or an affidavit indicating air quality in the city.
The PILs are posted for further hearing on February 9.