Expressing its dissatisfaction, the Supreme Court today called “deficient” an affidavit filed by the Delhi government on issues related to the procurement of 1,000 low-floor electric buses, and asked it to prepare a comprehensive plan within six weeks.
The court said the government’s affidavit was “deficient” as the issues required a detailed comprehensive plan, including the details of availability of funds, land for bus depots, charging stations, nature of electric buses and infrastructure for an intelligent transport system.
“Tell your people not to be in a hurry because in hurry, you will have problems. Have a solid plan about it. You can have experts for this,” a bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta told Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, who represented Delhi government.
Ms Anand told the court that she would instruct Delhi government to come out with a comprehensive plan on it taking into consideration the issues raised by the bench within six weeks.
The bench also questioned Delhi government’s proposal to use funds collected from the environment compensation charge (ECC) for procurement of electric buses.
“It (ECC funds) is to be used for particular purposes and not for substituting money which you have got from the Union of India or which is a part of your budget. Newspaper reports say Delhi has potholes on roads. You cannot use these funds for repairing potholes. That’s part of your job,” the bench said.
The court said that the budgetary allocation for procurement of buses for public transport should be used for this instead of funds collected under the ECC.
“You purchase buses. There is no difficulty on it. Your budgeted money is supposed to be used for it,” it said.
At the outset, the ASG said that Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) has been appointed as consultant for procurement of electric buses.
Advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the apex court as an amicus curiae, told the bench that budgetary allocation were made earlier for procurement of buses in Delhi but Rs 150 crore allocated for it was not used by the Delhi Transport Corporation.
Ms Singh said ECC funds should not be used for procuring electric buses as these funds were meant for other purposes.
Meanwhile, the ASG said that out of the required 11,000 buses for public transport, Delhi has only 5,554 buses.
She said that Delhi government’s decision to procure 2,000 standard buses was stayed by the Delhi High Court on a petition which has said that only low-floor buses should be purchased.
Referring to the affidavit, the ASG said availability of land for construction of bus depots was also an issue and they have given details in the affidavit about discussions with the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on land.
“You will never get so much of land. DDA will never give you so much land,” the bench said.
The amicus said Delhi government officials have to sit and talk with the departments concerned to chalk out a tangible plan.
The bench told the ASG that the Delhi government has to look into the issue like where to have charging stations for these electric buses and where these vehicles would be parked.
“Let me come back with a comprehensive plan,” the ASG said.
Towards the end of the hearing, the bench observed that the government would have to look into the issue of whether the roads would be able to handle these 1,000 electric buses.
In its affidavit, Delhi government had said that its “all-out efforts” to augment bus fleet to meet the requirement of 11,000 buses was hindered due to non-availability of land for depots and repeated failure of tenders issued by DTC for procurement of vehicles.
It had said that there were 1,275 low-floor AC buses, 2,506 low-floor non-AC buses and 101 Green standard-floor non-AC buses.
Besides these, 1,672 orange-coloured standard low-floor buses were also plying on roads, it had said.