CHENNAI: The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has given ‘conditional’ approval to Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) to buy new Bharat Stage (BS) IV norms-compliant diesel engine vehicles.
The BMTC along with three other corporations in Karnataka has proposed to buy 500 BS IV norms-compliant buses under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for which tenders were floated.
It was argued that BS IV buses were necessary to replace the old ones. However, NGT had earlier stayed the purchase following a petition by one Vinay Shivanand Naik which stated that the Karnataka HC in May 2014 had directed BMTC to prepare an action plan with regard to use of CNG vehicles. So far, nothing had been done and if permission is granted to purchase diesel vehicles at this stage, the application would become infructuous.
However, the tribunal has now modified the stay and passed an interim order allowing the State road corporations to purchase the new vehicles.
The bench comprising Justice MS Nambiar and expert member PS Rao said that out of 500 buses, there cannot be any objection for purchase of 150 high end premium diesel AC buses of Euro IV standard which are not available with CNG fuel.
“Similarly, when the ambit of the prayer in the application is restricted to Bengaluru City, there cannot be any objection with regard to the purchase of buses for operation outside Bengaluru city. Therefore, the prayer of the respondents for permission to purchase Euro IV norm buses to operate outside Bengaluru City can only be allowed. What remains is only with regard to 350 buses of 650 mm Floor Height Mini Non AC buses. If these buses are not purchased the Central aid would lapse on March 3, 2017.
Moreover, BS IV norm buses are sought to be purchased to replace BS I, BS II and part of BS III norm vehicles which are certainly causing more pollution. In such circumstances, it is not in the interest of justice to prohibit BMTC from purchasing BS IV norm buses,” the bench said in the order.
Meanwhile, the tribunal made it in definite terms that permission granted should not be taken as a ground to contend later that BMTC need not switch over to CNG buses. Similarly, before purchasing any additional buses, in addition to BS IV norm buses now permitted, BMTC should take the tribunal into confidence and satisfy why CNG vehicles are not being chosen.
It was also clarified that BS IV norm buses to be purchased by the other corporations could be allowed to pass through Bengaluru city only to drop and pick up passengers from the bus stand and they should not be operated exclusively in Bengaluru.
Also, the tribunal has impleaded GAIL (INDIA) Limited, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in the case.
The next date of hearing is on February 27.