New Delhi, Nov 16: In an effort to augment public transport in view of severe air pollution, the Delhi government is hiring around 1,000 private buses and has sought the DDMA’s permission for standing passengers in Metro trains and buses in the city.
At present, buses and Metro trains in Delhi are permitted to ply with 100 per cent seating capacity, but no standing passengers are allowed, a restriction imposed by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) due to COVID-19.
The transport department has sought permission from the DDMA to allow standing passengers in buses, a senior officer said.
Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot took to Twitter to request people in the national capital to avail public transport as he announced the hiring of 1,000 private buses for a month.
“In order to curb vehicular pollution, Delhiites are requested to shift from personal vehicles to public transport. With a view to augment public transport Delhi govt is in the process of hiring around 1,000 private buses for a period of 1 month,” he said.
Terming the rise in air pollution in the Delhi-NCR an “emergency” situation, the Supreme Court last week asked the Centre and the Delhi government to take immediate measures to improve the air quality and suggested steps such as stopping vehicles and clamping a lockdown in the national capital.
The transport department held a meeting with private bus operators for hiring buses to increase their frequency on different routes and augment the existing fleet of public transport buses.
“We had a meeting with the transport commissioner and other officers. Several bus operators attended the meeting and offered to provide 500 CNG buses in case odd-even scheme is implemented,” the transport department officer said.
The meeting was “exploratory” in nature as efforts are being made to augment the public transport system in the city, he said.
A decision on the odd-even scheme is yet to be made, the official added.
The odd-even scheme is a vehicle rationing scheme under which odd and even numbered vehicles ply on alternate days. Vehicles with registration numbers ending in odd numbers are allowed on the roads on odd days and even-numbered vehicles are allowed on even days.
According to the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), air quality is considered to be in the ’emergency’ category if the PM2.5 and PM10 levels continue to be above 300 micrograms per cubic metre and 500 micrograms per cubic metre respectively for 48 hours or more.
The “emergency” situation requires taking various steps, including stopping entry of trucks in Delhi, banning construction activities and introducing the odd-even car rationing scheme.
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