In the pipelines since 2009, the Delhi government has finally decided to establish an urban transport fund to promote public transport in an effort to reduce rising pollution levels in the capital.
After a WHO report announced that Delhi had the poorest air quality in any city worldwide, Lt-Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung ordered the formation of a “high-powered” committee to look at measures to combat air and water pollution.
The Delhi government said a Re 1 cess will be imposed on the purchase of every pack of cigarettes and each bottle of liquor, for the urban transport fund.
The plan to create this fund was first floated in 2009, ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, an official said. “The idea at that time was to generate funds by polling in revenue earned through resources like commercial development of bus depots, etc,” a senior official said.
“The idea for charging a Re 1 cess came up in the meeting. It is doable and is less likely to draw flak from political parties,” the official said.
The government will also introduce eight coaches in 129 Metro trains by March 2017. So far, only 58 Metro trains have eight coaches.
The government is also looking at better implementation of existing norms, particularly the Pollution Under Control norms. “Traffic Police will make it mandatory for all vehicles to display a valid PUC sticker,” an official said.
On December 6, 2001, the Supreme Court had ruled that “no heavy, medium or light-goods vehicles will ply on inter-state routes by-passing New Delhi”. But due to lack of infrastructural improvement on alternate routes, the order has remained on paper.
“The PWD and Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre will make provisions for u-turns or underpasses at border locations to prohibit entry of such vehicles. These shall be put in place within two months,” an official said.