Delhi: Adding More Buses to DTC Fleet Will Address Soaring Pollution, Say Public Transport Workers
Image Courtesy: Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: Flaying the Delhi Government for not addressing the fundamental issues relating to public transport in the city, employees of the public transport operator Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) staged demonstration here on Tuesday outside the Chief Minister’s residence at Civil Lines.
Led by the DTC Workers Unity Centre (DWUC), the protesting employees argued that the knee-jerk reactions like hiring buses from the private operators was not going to solve the issue of air pollution in the city. They demanded the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led government to immediately add more buses in the DTC fleet.
In an attempt to encourage more commuters to switch from using their private vehicles to public transport in the wake of deteriorating air quality in the city, the Delhi Government had announced to hire 1,000 CNG-run buses from private operators reportedly for a period of one month in November this year.
The decision was taken after several studies pointed out that the major and persistent sources of air pollution in the capital through the year are vehicular pollution and industrial pollution.
Abhishek of All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) told Newsclick on Tuesday that the said move highlighted the need of a strong public transport services in the city to address the alarming quality of air, but flayed the Delhi Government for “pushing DTC towards privatisation.” DWUC, which led Tuesday’s protest, is affiliated to AICCTU.
“We are demanding the government to add more buses to DTC itself, rather then hiring buses from private operators. Because, with such moves, we fear that eventually the public transport service in the city will only be privatised in the future,” he said.
As per media reports, the DTC and the Cluster Scheme of Delhi Integrated Multi Modal System (DIMTS) run around 7,000 buses in the city, even as official estimates put the requirement in accordance with the current demand to over 11,000 buses.
To be sure, in November 2020, the AAP government cleared a proposal to induct 1,000 low-floor buses to the DTC fleet, in a major move, given that last purchase of new buses by the DTC was in 2008. The procurement is, however, yet to see the day of light as both the BJP and Congress, alleging “corruption” in the matter, has demanded a probe in the matter.
This was, even as the mercury dipped in the national capital and thick smog enveloped the city yet again this year, forcing the shutting down of schools, imposition of work-from-home orders, halting of construction activities, among others, to temporarily tackle the soaring pollution levels.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, DTC employees also demanded compensation for the public transport workers who lost their lives due to Covid-19 – contracting the disease arguably while being on duty. Such employees’ families must be paid at least Rs 1 crore as compensation and a regular job, read the memorandum that was submitted to CM Arvind Kejriwal’s office on Tuesday.
There are at least two to three employees in each bus depot in the city who had succumbed to Covid-19 since last year, Abhishek informed Newsclick, citing the union’s estimates. There are no official numbers, released by DTC regarding the same, as yet, he said.
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