SIX MONTHS after it was launched with much fanfare, Delhi’s ambitious plan to have its roads vacuum cleaned has failed to take off. On April 1 this year, the hired mechanical sweepers were out on the roads, making rounds at night.
Six months later, the machines have been returned and vacuum cleaning is on hold. A tender for new machines is still being finalised.
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Announced in December last year, the scheme was an important part of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plans to improve the capital’s air quality – one of the worst in the world.
A source apportionment study of pollutants in Delhi’s air, done by IIT Kanpur and released last year, says 38 per cent of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and 56 per cent of PM 10 in the air is because of road dust.
According to PWD officials, the first tender failed to get any bids.“In the initial tender, we were looking for a firm that would provide us with exhaustive maintenance of the roads. This included repair, horticulture, and vacuum cleaning. But we did not get any bids. As of now, there are no firms that provide all three services. These services might be available in due course. We are now finalising a tender for all three tasks separately and expect it to be ready soon,” said PWD secretary Ashwani Kumar.
According to sources, PWD officials also felt the impact of vacuum cleaning was not as expected because of road design and poor maintenance.
“The machines work when the surface is even and does not have any potholes. But the four machines procured by the government were not effective because of the road conditions. This, coupled with problems with tendering process, meant that the project had to be stalled,” said an official.
PWD officials also said cleaning roads is actually not their responsibility. But since the government had decided to fight air pollution, they wanted to do their part.
The three municipal corporations do not have a mechanical sweepers. At present, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) is the only civic agency that uses machines to clean roads.
“We have two and are planning to get five more. The machines work fine as there are no potholes on our roads,” said Anant Kumar, chief engineer (maintenance), NDMC.
Air pollution task force holds first meeting
New Delhi: The Delhi government’s inter-ministerial task force to tackle solid waste management and air pollution held its first meeting on Monday, and discussed the problem of overburde-ned landfill sites in the city. ENS