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Two e-ways to keep trucks out stuck in red tape

Published : Nov 8, 2016, 1:51 am IST
Updated : Nov 8, 2016, 1:51 am IST

The two bypass road projects — Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways — touted to save the national capital from poisonous vehicular pollution, are facing inordinate delays.

The two bypass road projects — Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways — touted to save the national capital from poisonous vehicular pollution, are facing inordinate delays. While Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) project is yet to take off, only 68 per cent of the work has been accomplished on the Western Peripheral Expressway (WPE). The main reason being cited for EPE project not taking off is that its land acquisition related issues have not been settled so far. The WPE project, which was to be completed in 2012, is far behind its schedule.

The projects were part of the Supreme Court’s monitoring committee’s report to decongest and check pollution in the national capital. The committee, headed by former bureaucrat Bhure Lal, has been assisting the Apex Court for the past 10 years to fight pollution in the city.

A senior officer said that despite best efforts of the Environment and Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) and directions of the Supreme Court, construction of Western and Eastern bypass in and around the city remained a “distant dream’’ even 14 years after they were cleared to divert the estimated two lakh diesel-belching trucks from entering Delhi every night.

While EPE was envisaged to provide a signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida) and Palwal, WPE will connect Kundli to Palwal via Manesar in Haryana. At present, vehicular pollution has peaked in Delhi — with reports suggesting that the deadly dust called respirable suspended particulate material (RSPM) having reached 316 micrograms per cubic metre, almost 16 times more than the normal — a poison emitted by these diesel trucks which enters the air leading to health risks, particularly in the middle of the night. Besides banning the entry of polluting vehicles, the Supreme Court appointed committee headed by retired bureaucrat Lal had also suggested seven steps to mitigate the dangerous level of pollution which included imposition of dust pollution control measures, long-term action plan to control garbage burning, shutting down of thermal power plants, strict action by Haryana and Punjab governments to stop biomass burning and diversion of all non-Delhi bound trucks and complete check on the entry of old commercial trucks into the city. The committee had even advocated strict enforcement of Environment Compen-sation Cess on all vehicles.

While the government has miserably failed to put any of these anti-pollution measures into place, it has also not been able to add even a single bus to its DTC fleet since 2010 to improve public mode of transport. What’s worse is that the number of DTC buses has gone down from 5,445 in 2012-13 to 4,461 this year. The number of passengers carried each day by the DTC buses has also gone down from 46.77 lakh in 2012-13 to 43.09 lakh this year. “Due to poor public transport system, more and more people are opting for either four wheelers or two wheelers which are primarily responsible for increasing air pollution in Delhi,” Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken said.

Even the Delhi Metro failed to operationalise its 156-km Phase III network in September this year. Only 22 km of the Phase III Metro Line has been made operational so far. “Had the Phase III of the Metro been made operational, about 10 lakh more commuters could have easily availed this environment friendly mode of transport,” Mr Maken added.

A report prepared by the EPCA Authority said urgent action was also required to control pollution emanating from thermal power plants.

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi