Published: Sunday 28 February 1999

DTC in despair

The public transport system in Delhi is in a state of despair ('Left hanging' Down To Earth , Vol 7, No 13; November 30). By the early 1990s, the Delhi Transport Corporation ( dtc ) had accumulated a loss of over Rs 100 crore and needed a large amount of money to repair its fleet of over 4,000 buses.

There was also an impending need for many new buses. But the then government was not willing to bail out the dtc. Instead, it introduced the "Red" and "Blue" lines service. These buses are nothing but a menace to the residents of Delhi.

The much talked about mass rapid transit transport system ( mrts ), which was supposed to be fully operational in 1997, is yet to take off. A decade later and with no alternatives in sight, the government has suddenly decided to revive the dtc by importing buses.

But many questions still remain unanswered: has the government taken into consideration the poorquality of diesel and the poisonous emissions from these buses? telco introduced a new bus last year which it claimed met the pollution standards for the year 2000. Where do these foreign buses stand when compared to telco? Have these buses been designed for Delhi's road conditions, where there are speed breakers at random heights and where passenger load exceeds by up to 50 per cent? Moreover, there are no provisions to maintain these buses.

Besides, there are some issues which have not been covered by the media yet. In my opinion, Volvo is just testing the waters in India. There is more at stake than the 1,500 "eco-friendly and fuel-efficient" buses for dtc. It may have plans to introduce a wide range of trucks and buses in future. Buses made in India have carried millions of people and have a reasonable safety record. Then why have these buses been overlooked? It is difficult to believe that the government -- which made benzene laden fuel mandatory for three million vehicles in Delhi when 90 per cent of these vehicles do not have catalytic converters -- is serious about pollution....

Price of poor environment

We are proud of Amartya Sen, but development without any consideration to the environment is futile ('The poverty of Amartya Sen' Down To Earth , Vol 7, No 14; December 15). Anil Agarwal has quoted examples of Sukhomajri and Ralegaon Siddhi, which have made an extraordinary economic transformation through good environment management. Villages that were once very economically poor are today prosperous.

According to the World Bank, India suffers a loss of almost us $80 billion every year due to ecological degradation. It is true that the present system of governance has created islands of prosperity and a sea of poverty....

Declining vultures

The declining trend of vultures ('What's eating the vultures' Down To Earth , Vol 7, No 16; January 15) is due to pesticides. Interestingly, the government says that pesticide consumption in India has fallen by 25 per cent, yet pesticide production grew by more than 30 per cent between 1988-96....

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