ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ill-Planned Exercise

Delhi : Ill-Planned Exercise

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I t was the kind of All Fools' Day caper that turned out to be the Delhi commuter's worst nightmare. On March 31, the night before the deadline imposed by the Supreme Court for all dieselrun public transport vehicles to stop plying on the roads of Delhi elapsed, the Delhi government announced that over 5,000 apexcourt compliant vehicles were ready for operation the next day. But barely a fifth of that number plied on the city's streets that day, throwing the city into utter confusion. Delhi's public transport system, by no means the most efficient, quite simply ceased to function. In July 1998, following a PIL filed by M C Mehta, the Supreme Court had laid down standards to which all vehicles, commercial and non-commercial, registered in the National Capital Region should conform. The apex court had based its guidelines on the Bhure Lal committee report that revealed the alarming rise in pollution levels in the NCR, mainly due to diesel emissions from vehicle exhausts. The committee had recommended, on the basis of international experience, that compressed natural gas should gradually replace diesel as the main fuel. This meant the undertaking of a phased programme for conversion of dieselrun vehicles. The court directives included, among others, compliance with Euro II emission norms by private vehicles; the phasing out of old commercial vehicles; and conversion of dieselrun vehicles to CNG such that from the beginning of April this year only buses less than eight years old equipped with CNG or other clean fuels would be allowed to ply in the NCR.

Since then the court has relaxed its directives, allowing for instance the replacement of old engines with fuel efficient ones and even ruling that commercial vehicles that had placed orders for a CNG kit could ply till September 30, 2001. The state government in contrast has in all its actions dithered in implementing the court's directives, failing to even set in place a policy to ensure in a phased and planned manner CNG conversion of all commercial vehicles. It has, despite the court's directive, done little to publicise the court's orders on CNG conversion of all commercial vehicles.

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