The BRT corridor is here to stay, traffic snarls and all.
The Delhi high court on Thursday dismissed a plea seeking scrapping of the 5.8-km bus rapid transit stretch between Ambedkar Nagar and Moolchand in south Delhi, saying it was "not an irrational decision" but taken with an eye on the future.
The judgment - after a nine-month hearing - is a huge boost to the Delhi government, which cleared a BRT corridor last month, seven more across the city on Tuesday and has a further seven in the pipeline.
"There being no scope to widen existing roads and with Delhi's population continuously growing, there is no escaping the fact that citizens will have to, one day or the other, use public transport," a bench headed by justice Pradeep Nandrajog said.
"Since in a democracy it is not possible to physically seize cars and destroy them, the only democratic solution would be to dedicate road space for buses, which would move fast, and this would act as an incentive for people to switch to public transport," the court said.
"A developed country is not one where the poor own cars. It is one where the rich use public transport."
"I am unhappy with the decision and will file an appeal in Supreme Court," said Col BB Sharan of the NGO Nyaya Bhoomi, which had demanded the project either be scrapped or that the exclusive bus lane be opened to other vehicles.
He said the bus lane remained mostly empty while the other lanes were jammed with people stuck for hours.
But the court said, "We have to keep in mind that planning is always long-term and the fruits of the labour may not be available in the immediate future."
In May, the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), which conducted a feasibility study on the court's order, in its report recommended scrapping of the stretch.
However, the court said the congestion problem was only on the section between Sheikh Sarai and Chirag Dilli.
Strongly defending the project in court, the state government said the CRRI report was "full of ontradictions" and that "it in fact supports the existence of the BRT by its conclusion that 70% of users were moving faster and there was a 32% increase in bus ridership".