Plan to drive in 10,000 buses

The Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government on Friday pushed its plan of bringing 10,000 more buses on city roads, as it told the National Green Tribunal that the city has fewer buses compared to many world-class cities despite high road density.

The Delhi government has plans to add 10,000 buses to its fleet to cut dependency on private vehicles as a measure to decongest roads and cut vehicular pollution, even as the Tribunal was sceptical about space on roads to accommodate more buses.

The AAP government also said capping the number of vehicles was not in its hand and was a call for the Centre to take.

The government drew a comparison between Delhi and cities like London, Beijing and Seoul to say that the Capital lags behind in number of buses in proportion to its population and road network.

It said Delhi has one of the highest road density (km of road per sq. km of land area) in the world at 21.19 km of road per sq. km of area, while the total road length was around 30,000 km.

The government said this in response to a query put forth by the NGT in July on how the government plans to accommodate 10,000 buses on its already-congested roads.

“Delhi is adding 1,000 cars everyday. It takes one hour to travel 10 km today. If you introduce buses simultaneously, what would be the status of roads? Will you be able to move an inch? Have you thought about this? Encourage public transport, but what is your scheme on this?” the Bench, headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar, remarked.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Development Authority on Friday maintained its stand of non-availability of land to the government’s prayer for 500 acre of area for parking the buses.

Now that the DDA has cited non-availability of land, the government is left to look for parking space on the city’s outskirts.

On the NGT’s directions of capping the number of vehicles and putting an age-limit, advocate D. Rajeshwar Rao, appearing for Delhi Police, which is one of the necessary parties to the case, seconded city government in its submission that the same was for the Centre to decide.

It said taking a decision on the two issues was not possible for the Delhi government and if the Centre approves the same, the State would comply.

The Tribunal was also informed that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will be installing weigh bridges on six entries into Delhi.

The NHAI said land needs to be acquired wherever such bridges will be installed so that overloaded vehicles can be sent back without causing traffic jams on highways.

Regarding staggered work hours suggested by the NGT to decongest roads, the Delhi and Central governments said the same was not practical. It also did not support the NGT’s suggestion of high registration fee for vehicles.