What steps are you taking towards temporarily augmenting public transport system during the odd-even drive?
We have written to Delhi Metro to take measures to handle a potential rise in ridership. They plan to increase the number of trips by at least 60 per day… We also need to keep in mind that the Metro network has expanded substantially as compared to the last two phases of odd-even. We are also hiring 2,000 private buses, which will be paid Rs 50 per km.
Two major policy measures, odd-even and free rides for women, will come into effect within the next fortnight. Before that at least 300 buses were to be inducted. How will the rush be tackled?
Induction of 300 buses looks a little difficult now. But we are hoping that at least 100 buses will join the cluster bus fleet by October-end.
As per the timeline shared by the government, the city is to get at least 2,035 cluster buses, including electric buses, by May 2020. This seems to have gone off track.
The economic slowdown has had a major impact on induction of buses. The delay is happening as vehicle manufacturers, Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland, have not managed to adhere to their commitments. Their plants are often not functioning to full capacity. It happened even when we visited the Tata Motors’ Lucknow plant.
Can the government meet the target it has set for itself?
We will invoke the penalty clause, which is a part of any such agreement, on the companies if the delay continues. The penalty clause comes into effect if at least 25% of the product is not delivered within three months of entering into an agreement. The initial hiccups relating to installation of CCTVs and panic buttons, and registration of buses have been tackled. The buses should start coming now.
As Environment Minister, what other measures are you taking to tackle the rising levels of pollution?
We managed to prevent largescale bursting of firecrackers during Dussehra. Many agencies are running drives to seize firecrackers before Diwali. Shopkeepers are on a tight leash. We are also coming down heavily on dust pollution.