The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has welcomed the Delhi budget saying it has prioritised public transport augmentation and service for all. The government has also taken a step forward to apply the ‘polluter pays’ principle and impose a congestion tax on incoming trucks the revenue of which will be used to augment the city’s public transport system, said the CSE.

"This is a much needed move at a time when Delhi’ites are gasping for breathing fresh air and the daily travel trips are expected to explode to 25.3 million a day. The travel choices of the people will determine the livability of Delhi," said CSE executive director Anumita Roychowdhury, who also heads its air pollution control campaign.

"If no further action is taken to radically improve public transport, Delhi will gasp for breath, pay unacceptable fuel costs and spew warming gases like never before," she added.

CSE pointed some of the key highlights of the new budget for the city to address air pollution and mobility crisis. Focus on augmentation of bus transport and improvement in bus transport service is one of the main aspects. The total proposed expenditure in the transport sector in 2015-16 is Rs 5,085 crore, which is 23 percent more than 2014-15.

The government has proposed to procure about 1,380 semilow floor buses, 500 midi buses under DTC and around 1,000 more buses under the cluster scheme by the end of 2016. It has further proposed to bring 10,000 buses of different specifications, to meet the differentiated needs of commuters. It has also proposed to sort out the tangle over depot land for buses – something which has been holding up bus purchase in the city.

For multi-modal integration, the government proposes to work towards a single fare system on a single media for payment. It will also improve IT applications to provide public information on bus services.

CONGESTION TAX ON TRUCKS

The budget acknowledges alarming levels of air pollution is a cause of concern for all and trucks contribute hugely to pollution. It has, therefore, proposed to impose congestion tax on incoming trucks. This fund will be used to augment environment friendly public transport system, and install weigh-in-motion bridges to discourage overloading of trucks that cause more pollution. The budget has proposed to issue about 5,500 new auto permits to ply in the NCR. It has proposed to give a subsidy for purchase of erickshaws from the Air Ambiance Fund as these vehicles are environment-friendly. It is hoped that additional measures will be taken to organise this service for efficient last mile connectivity across the city.