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Stop finger pointing, boost public transport: EPCA tells Delhi govt

The Apex court panel also pulled up the administration for its failure to procure buses despite parking space being allotted to it more than a year ago.

delhi Updated: Nov 17, 2017 23:23 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
pollution,odd-even,EPCA
Delhi witnessed a spell of smog last week, which saw the city’s air quality dipping to emergency levels. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority panel on Friday rapped the Delhi government and said that the administration should stop ‘finger pointing’ during an emergency.

The Apex court panel also pulled up the administration for its failure to procure buses despite parking space being allotted to it more than a year ago.

“We do not believe that at this time, of high public health emergency, there is need for finger-pointing.....finger pointing won’t suffice. Action will,” Bhure Lal, EPCA chairman, wrote in a letter to Kailash Gahlot, the state transport minister, on Friday.

The letter claimed that lack of public transport in Delhi has weakened the implementation of GRAP as measures such as hike in parking fees had to be withdrawn. It also criticised the government for failing to tackle illegal parking.

Gahlot, however, refused to comment saying that he has not seen the letter yet.

On Wednesday Gahlot had written a letter to Lal asking him to advise other cities in the National Capital Region to implement the odd-even road rationing arrangement.

“In our May 2016 report to your government, we had explained that there was land available for parking 2,000 buses within the available infrastructure. However, we find that as yet, no additional buses have been procured,” EPCA’s letter says.

The government spokesperson had said on Wednesday that even though they have the will and resources to procure more buses, the Centre didn’t allot any land for parking space.

“The Delhi Development Authority has, on our request, made changes in the Master Plan to allow multilevel parking. But we are finding it difficult to identify what actions have been taken by your government to speed up the procurement of buses, for which parking space is already available,” Lal wrote in his letter.

The Arvind Kejriwal government had earlier announced the odd-even road rationing measure from November 13, giving exemptions to women and two-wheeler riders.

The National Green Tribunal had given its nod for the measure but refused to allow any exemptions. The government, however, back tracked later citing women’s safety and told the NGT that it would need an additional 2,500 buses to bear the extra load of two-wheelers riders.

“Even before the EPCA could assess the situation (pollution levels), your government decided to announce the implementation of the odd-even scheme. The odd even scheme, included in GRAP measures, is designed as an emergency scheme under which there are no exemptions,” Lal wrote in his letter.

Citing that lack of public transport will make such an important pollution control intervention meaningless, the letter also said: “It is imperative that your government take urgent measures and decisive steps to augment public transport. Only then emergency steps like odd-even are effective.”

First Published: Nov 17, 2017 23:23 IST