Delhi chokes as its government fails to deliver

Nearly three years into power, the AAP government is yet to deliver on the promises it made before the 2015 elections to clean Delhi’s air


                    Delhi Transport Corporation's bus fleet reduced by 8% in a year (Credit: Vikas Choudhary/CSE)
Delhi Transport Corporation's bus fleet reduced by 8% in a year (Credit: Vikas Choudhary/CSE)

At a time air pollution level in Delhi has been classified as “a public medical emergency” by the Indian Medical Association, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal blamed crop burning in neighbouring states for turning Delhi into a “gas chamber”. However, the current situation could have been contained had the Delhi government even met its own promises made in AAP’s 70-point Action Plan before the Assembly elections in 2015.

After all, air pollution causes 3,000 premature deaths in Delhi every year—or eight deaths a day. Also, one in every third child in Delhi has reduced lung function and high propensity for increased pulmonary haemorrhage, as per a study by the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).

Promise

Adding at least 5,000 new buses to the city fleet in five years (2015-2020) and controlling the number of cars on the road

Reality

8% reduction in DTC’s average bus fleet: The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) had 4,977 buses in 2014-15, which reduced to 4,564 buses—or 413 fewer buses—in 2015-16, as per the latest review by the Union Ministry of Road Transport And Highways in October 2017. Not just that, even the average operational fleet of DTC reduced from 4,180 in 2014-15 to 3,817 in 2015-16.

30% dip in registry of buses: The Delhi Transport Department registered 877 buses in 2016-17, as opposed to 1,254 buses in 2013-14.

See Interactive: Waiting for the bus

21% jump in registry of private vehicles: A total number of 600,930 private vehicles (motorcycle, scooter and cars) were registered in Delhi in 2016-17, as opposed to 495,624 in 2013-14.

93% vehicles on Delhi roads are private-owned: As on January 1, 2017, Delhi had over 10 million registered vehicles, of this 9.48 million is private-owned, as per Delhi Transport Department. In contrast, Delhi has a working population (20-59 years) of 9.6 million, as per Census 2011.

Promise

Unified Transport Authority for better planning for all forms of transport including the metro, buses, auto rickshaws, rickshaws and e-rickshaws

Reality

More than two years after the announcement, the authority has not yet been set up

Promise

Extend and develop the ring rail service in Delhi

Reality

Newspaper reports in October 2017 suggest plans have been drawn to revive Delhi's 35-km ring railway by constructing elevated tracks as well as modernizing and redeveloping stations. The ring railway, constructed in 1975 to bypass the crowded Old Delhi, New Delhi and Hazrat Nizamuddin stations, has the potential to decongest stations in Delhi.

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Today it is hazardous; tomorrow it is going to be deadly

Today it is hazardous; tomorrow it is going to be deadly

The air quality in Delhi is likely to worsen further with north-westerly wind expected to bring in more toxic smoke from Punjab and Haryana in the coming days. In the light of sudden spike in air pollution, EPCA recommends odd-even vehicle rule and ban on construction

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