Delhi’s roads will have to wait longer for mechanical sweepers as firms that have the machines do not seem interested in lending them to the Delhi government. The tender floated by the government earlier this month has failed to get any response, and the government has failed to meet its second deadline to start vacuum-cleaning roads in a month’s time.
Hired mechanical cleaners were put to work for a few days in April this year. Following that, tenders floated did not receive a single bid.
The government then said it would hire machines by November 10. After that deadline passed, the plan was to get machines by Friday — November 18. “The tenders have not got any bids. We are waiting,” said Public Works Department secretary Ashwani Kumar.
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Vacuum-cleaning roads to trap dust 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 the capital’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.
Officials of the Public Works Department said the first tenders that were floated sought a firm that would provide exhaustive maintenance of roads — including repair, greening, and vacuum-cleaning. This tender did not receive any bids. The second tender sought only vacuum-cleaning services.
Some officials have also questioned the decision to bring in mechanical cleaners as Delhi does not have even roads. “Mechanical sweepers require even roads to function effectively, but it was clear during the trial in August that our roads are not ready for these cleaners,” said an official.