To clean Delhi’s foul air, SC appointed body chooses to build on Sheila govt’s plan

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After lying in cold storage for five years, an ambitious anti-pollution plan of the erstwhile Sheila Dikshit government is set to get a fresh lease of life.

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority plans to build on its suggestions in preparing a fresh roadmap to clean the city’s foul air.

sheila govt's plan

The 10-point action plan had envisaged to augment the city’s bus fleet to 15,000, set up 14 bus rapid transit (BRT) corridors by 2016, introduce variable time-based parking rates, increase road tax on private vehicles and ensure an early roll out of Euro VI emission standards.

Incidentally, the only BRT corridor that Delhi had till last year has been dismantled by the AAP government due to its “faulty design” while the city continues to battle an acute crisis of buses, number of which is yet to cross even the 6,000 mark.

It is learnt that the plan had even reached the Cabinet level but did not go further due to political turn of events which saw Dikshit being unseated after 15 years at the helm and Aam Aadmi Party’s ascent to power in December, 2013.

Prepared in February 2012, it had even highlighted the need to introduce mechanical or vacuum based street sweeping, a proposal which has gained currency in the recent months, without much success on ground.

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) chief Sunita Narain, a member of EPCA, said it would be taken up along with the 42-point action plan of the Union Environment Ministry and CSE’s own action plan in preparing a fresh consolidated roadmap towards improving the city’s air quality.

Narain, who herself was involved in the drafting of the Congress government’s plan with the objective to meet ambient air quality standards in Delhi by 2017, said it was one of the most comprehensive such document to have been prepared in recent years.

The issue will be discussed in the next meeting of the EPCA, which has been tasked with by the Supreme Court to implement the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to check emergency levels of pollution.

Under the parking policy head, the Dikshit plan had enumerated a number of proposals including hiking parking violation fines, introduction of variable time-based pricing, as per market demand and delinking parking costs from properties.

The EPCA has recently directed the Delhi government to prepare a parking policy, the continued absence of which is coming in the way of hiking parking fees, under the GRAP, when air quality turns ‘very poor’.

It had also proposed “extra and highly enhanced fees” on sale of properties along metro or BRT corridors while keeping property taxes untouched.

The plan said it would prevent ‘gentrification’, which often leads to displacement of lower income families from a neighbourhood as upper income families buy and renovate buildings to their suiting leading to hike in property values.

As per the plan, electronic display boards for air quality index and health advisory were to be put up at toll plazas and big market areas including Connaught Place, ITO, Sarojini Nagar Market, Lajpat Nagar Market and Rajouri Garden.

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