Yet another pretense

CNG technology is not proven, says the Delhi government to avoid implementing the Supreme Court order

Published: Monday 15 January 2001

the Delhi government has once again proved that is not serious about implementing the Supreme Court's order of July 28, 1998. The order states that all Delhi Transport Corporation's (dtc) buses should be run on Compressed Natural Gas ( cng ) by March 2001. The number of cng buses should be at least 10,000. Latest in the spate of misleading statements related to this issue is the one made by state transport minister Parvez Hashmi. He was recently quoted as saying that the Delhi government is going to submit an affidavit in the court stating that cng technology is yet to be proven. "I am blindly spending public money on an unproven technology. We don't want cng," says Hashmi (see box: Wake up Mr Minister!).

Reacting to the statement, Anil Agarwal, chairperson, Centre for Science and Environment (cse), a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation, said, "Hashmi should retract his irresponsible statement and give a clear plan of action with a time frame for the implementation of the order."

As the deadline of March 31, 2001 draws near, the transport minister seems desperate to find excuses to dilute the order. He wants to escape the likely chastisement from the bench when the matter comes up for hearing in the court. More so, because the Delhi government has not yet given an undertaking on the implementation of the order as directed by the court on March 31, 2000.

Any deviation from the cng strategy could have serious repercussions for Delhi residents. A recent study, undertaken by cse to estimate the trend in emission load from different policy measures, shows a dismal picture. If the government had been sincere about implementing the court order as per schedule, then at least 7,298 tonnes of additional particulate pollution could be avoided in the next 10 years, shows the cse study. Not converting all buses to cng will produce an additional pollution load that could lead to the death of an additional person every day over the next 10 years.

There are only 140 cng buses plying on the roads today. An order for another 1,000 buses has already been placed. But, by March 31, 2001, the Delhi government will be able to add only 500 buses, according to Rakesh Mehta, chairperson-cum-managing director of dtc. This is far shot of the 10,000 cng bus fleet that was mandated by the Supreme Court.

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