The Delhi High Court has rapped Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party government over the procurement of 1000 low floor electric bus instead of standard floor CNG buses. The court said that that the AAP government has to have an action plan to provide parking space for the vehicles. The court demanded a timeline from the Delhi government on its move to procure the 1,000 low-floor electric buses instead of the standard-floor CNG buses proposed earlier. However, the government and the DTC said they have the space to park the buses and there was no need to build multi-level parking facilities as they were not economically viable.
“Will these 1,000 buses fly in air,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked the Delhi government and the Delhi Transport Corporation, after noting that purchase orders were issued without finalising a plan for parking space. Stressing on the need for low-floor buses, the bench said: “We will not let this exclusivity (against handicapped persons) to persist in Delhi.” On an apparent lack of a plan to park the buses proposed to be procured, the court said: “We are unable to understand what would be the fate of these buses.” It told the Delhi government that ensuring parking space was “not like buying buses or potatoes”.
The court said that land is not something you cannot manufacture and hence the concern should not be the cost, but optimal use of the land. Unconvinced by the government and the DTC’s claims, the bench asked the Delhi chief secretary to “forthwith” convene a meeting of high-level officials and to place before the court an action plan on the nature of parking spaces, their design, the timeline within which the construction would be completed and their location. The bench said it wants the action plan by February 28, the next date of hearing, and failure to do so would result in a stay on the tender as well as the initiation of contempt action against the officials concerned.
The government and the DTC defended their stand, saying that multi-level parking spaces were not cost-effective and that they were examining the EPCA’s 2016 report recommending such structures. This prompted the bench to remark that it was told that the master plan for Delhi was amended to include multi-level parking on the 2016 recommendation of EPCA, but the government was only now examining the issue.