Delhi government can use green cess fund for RRTS first phase: EPCA in SC
The proposal to use ECC funds has been advised by EPCA after the Delhi government said it does not have adequate finances to meet its share of Rs 1,138 crore for the first phase of proposed RRTS between Delhi, Ghaziabad and Meerut.Updated: Feb 05, 2019 13:32 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Supreme court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has suggested that the Delhi government use the Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) as its share to fund the first phase of proposed regional rapid transit system (RRTS) between Delhi, Ghaziabad and Meerut.
The EPCA’s report was placed before the Supreme Court on Monday by advocate Aparajita Singh, who is assisting the bench of justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta in the air pollution case. The EPCA said the RRTS project is of “national importance” and should not be delayed to avoid escalation of construction cost.
According to the EPCA, the estimated project cost of the 82.15 km corridor is Rs 31,632 crore. The proposal to use ECC funds has been advised by EPCA after the Delhi government said it does not have adequate finances to meet its share of Rs 1,138 crore.
The ECC fund was created on the directions of the top court, which, in a bid to check high pollution levels in Delhi, had, in October 2015, imposed the additional tax on commercial vehicles entering the Capital. Singh informed the court that Rs 1,106 crore was available in the ECC fund.
“The first year cost of Delhi government would be Rs 265 crore. EPCA do not want any delay in the project as it would escalate the cost. In ECC, they have around Rs1,100 crore. Let first year fund (of Delhi government) go from the ECC. This is a project of national importance,” she said.
After perusing the report, the bench asked the Delhi government counsel to give its response within a week. The lawyer said the government had granted in-principle approval to the RRTS project but was facing issues with regard to funds. The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on February 11.
The RRTS corridor will have a 13-kilometre section in Delhi, with stations at Sarai Kale Khan, New Ashok Nagar and Anand Vihar. EPCA prepared its report after holding consultations with all the stakeholders on January 25.
“The Delhi government had objections on two issues. The first is about change of station from underground to elevated at Sarai Kale Khan and the other was about funds. The elevated station at Sarai Kale Khan helps them (Delhi government) also. The only issue is funding. Delhi government says that Union of India should fund their share,” Singh said.
While, a total of Rs 265 crore may be paid through ECC to finance the first year of the project, EPCA said the Delhi government may be directed to make budgetary provisions for the remaining years as well as the cost of land that it needs to provide in the first year.
EPCA said it has not been able to apprehend Delhi government’s reluctance to finance the project despite the transport department having unutilized funds of Rs 700 crore in the past four years. “In this same period, the Delhi government revenue (receipts) has gone up from Rs 29,586 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 38,667 crore,” the EPCA said.
The Uttar Pradesh government has already given approval to the project, which has got all statutory clearances, in May 2017.
First Published: Feb 05, 2019 13:31 IST