NEW DELHI: From environmentalists and the National Green Tribunal to the Supreme Court, the increasing air pollution in the country, particularly in Delhi, has become a matter of huge concern. But not so with the members of Parliament (MPs), it appears.
Last month, the Lok Sabha Secretariat wrote to the Union Transport Ministry that it does not want the environment-friendly battery-operated buses that the ministry gave to the secretariat to transport MPs from their homes to Parliament when the House is in session.
The reason: MPs prefer to travel in cars and SUVs as against the buses. “I used it initially but now I use my car. It is not possible to collect everyone in the bus as MPs have meetings at different time and follow their own work schedule,” said BJP MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe.
Rajya Sabha MP belonging to the Communist Party of India, D Raja, was in agreement. “Actually MPs live in different locations and it is not possible to pool them in a bus at a common time. The bus will stop at a particular point, so MPs living far away from the bus stop will have to walk to the pick-up point.”
Raja instead prefers to take the shuttle, also run by the Lok Sabha Secretariat. These shuttles operate SUVs such as the Toyota Innova. They accommodate only 4-5 MPs, making them more feasible logistically.
“I have never used the bus. I take the shuttle or walk down to Parliament as I stay at Vithabhai Patel House,” Raja added. Located in the heart of the city, Vithabhai Patel House is just a 10-minute walk from Parliament.
The brainchild of Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, launched with much fanfare on December 22, 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was seen as a major green initiative to cut down on carbon emission. The first bus, gifted to the Lok Sabha Secretariat, was developed by a Pune-based company in consultation with the Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT) under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat later acquired another such eco-friendly bus. Each retrofitted bus costs about `1 crore. But with no takers, the buses are lying in disuse at Transport Bhawan, the headquarters of the Union transport ministry, a stone’s throw away from Parliament.
The buses have, in fact, become a headache for the ministry as there is no space to park them. Most of the time they are parked outside the ministry, causing traffic jams.