After dragging its feet over the issue of conversion of buses to Compressed Natural Gas (cng), the Delhi government recently announced that the vehicles supplied by Ashok Leyland and Telco are not up to the mark. However, Ashok Leyland has claimed that its buses have proved successful in Mumbai. On the other hand, the Delhi Transport Corporation (dtc) is looking for excuses and more time to meet its target of conversion to cng even as it plays into the hands of the diesel lobby ( Down To Earth , Vol 8,No 7).
"The Telco bus, which is slightly better than Ashok Leyland's, will continue on trial run for a month or two before a final decision is taken," said Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit recently. She cited an unusually long and hot summer as the reason behind the "not so successful" trial run of the buses. In June, the city government bought 10 cng buses from Ashok Leyland when the Supreme Court directed the state to induct environment-friendly buses.
Faced with the challenge of reducing particulate matter in Delhi, the court in July 1998, ordered buses that were more than eight years old to be converted to cng or other "clean fuel" by April 1, 2000. It also ruled that this conversion should include the entire DTC fleet by April 2001. The court also directed the government to increase the number of buses from the present 7,000 (including private operators) to 10,000 by April 1, 2001. The sc directive applies to both dtc and private-owned buses in Delhi.
"We are neither confident nor sure whether we will be able to supply over 1,800 cng buses (more than eight years old) by March 31, 2000. We may even have to approach the court at a later stage," she told the media. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, cng is a proven clean fuel and buses have been successfully operating in Mumbai for two years.
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