New Delhi: In the backdrop of the anti-pollution rhetoric has come an RTI revelation that the Arvind Kejriwal government raised Rs. 787 crore as environment cess in two years but has spent only a fraction of it on fighting pollution.
In fact, since the Aam Aadmi Party assumed power in the national capital in 2015, a measly Rs. 93 lakh has been spent by the Delhi government out of the environment cess, which is a miniscule 0.12 per cent. “Around Rs 787 crore has been received. But only a few lakhs have been spent,” said RTI activist Sanjeev Jain.
Not just that; while Rs 93 lakh was spent in 2016, there was “no mention of any expenditure” in 2017. The embarrassing disclosure came even as Chief Minister Kejriwal was meeting his Haryana counterpart. Ironically, after the RTI reply was put out on TV channels with much hullabaloo, AAP leaders said the environment cess would be used to buy electric buses. The AAP government was questioned yesterday on its plan to introduce the odd-even rule in Delhi by the National Green Tribunal and why it had not added more buses in the city.
The Aam Aadmi Party government got instant flak from the opposition parties on its dismal record in utilisation of the environment cess. The Congress said the city government was not utilising funds for strengthening the public transport system, and instead was involved in “blame game”.
“It is complete negligence on the part of (Chief Minister) Kejriwal’s government that it has not been able to utilise Rs 787 crore which is lying idle,” Delhi Congress Chief Ajay Maken told IANS. “The public transport system in Delhi is in a shambles,” he added.
The Congress leader pointed out they could have bought new buses with this money, and also augmented total parking capacity of the bus depots. The government could also have purchased road vacuum cleaners, as the dust “is the single biggest contributory factor for air pollution” in Delhi.
“In Delhi, if we look at all the factors contributing to air pollution, then about 80 per cent of it is due to road dust, vehicular movement, industrial pollution and domestic pollution. And the Delhi government itself should deal with it,” Maken said.
People have been forced to use their two-wheelers in the absence of a robust public transport system,” the Congress functionary pointed out.