E-cars for ferrying MPs likely in Parliament this monsoon session
At a recent meeting with senior officials, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla asked for a review of the current car usage policy, according to people familiar with the development.
From the Monsoon session, only electric cars may be used to ferry lawmakers to and from their homes in Lutyens’ Delhi in a bid to curb air pollution and promote a green culture in Parliament.
At a recent meeting with senior officials, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla asked for a review of the current car usage policy, according to people familiar with the development. Apart from the Lok Sabha secretariat, the government-run India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) provide cars in Parliament to ferry members.
“During the session, after the adjournment of the House, electric cars may be deployed for dropping off members,” said a note on the meeting that HT has seen.
To be sure, members can use their personal or official vehicles to travel to Parliament. According to officials, however, about 60% prefer to use ferry vehicles during the session because of parking limitations in the complex.
The use of electric cars has been on the agenda of Parliament officials for a while. Two years ago, a couple of golf carts were purchased to commute within the Parliament estate. During Sumitra Mahajan’s tenure as Speaker (2009-14), a battery-operated minibus was also bought for MPs, but it was only of limited utility because it unsuitable for narrow lanes.
Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar uses the only e-car (Hyundai Kona) among the members of Parliament, while another Bharatiya Janata Party MP, Mansukh Mandviya, rides a bicycle to Parliament.
The review of the car lease policy comes weeks after the Lok Sabha secretariat decided to curtail costs in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
The Lok Sabha was allotted ₹811 crore in this year’s general budget, ₹44 crore higher than the revised estimate of ₹766.87 crore in FY 2019-20. But a large part of the money is expected to remain unspent, according to officials.
The Rajya Sabha has an annual budget of ₹436 crore.
The Upper House, too, has reviewed the vehicles available to it, and is likely to get some e-cars. It was due to buy two new cars after a gap of more than 10 years, and the vehicles were to be given to Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and deputy chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh.
But now, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, purchase of vehicles may be pushed back, said an official.
The Lok Sabha secretariat has also barred entry of its former employees to Parliament complex. The ban is applicable for retired officers below the rank of joint secretary. Officials said the ban is aimed at restricting people in Parliament to reduce the virus threat.