Amidst the city’s fight against pollution, an RTI revelation on Wednesday put the Delhi government “in a spot” after it failed to specify its utilisation of the Rs 787 crore green cess collected during 2017.
The Delhi government — in the RTI reply to Sanjeev Jain, a Right To Information activist — said it received Rs 50 crore in 2015, Rs 387 crore in 2016 and Rs 787 crore as environment cess from January 1 to September 30 in 2017.
The Arvind Kejriwal government said it has spent Rs 93 lakh of the environment cess in 2016, but there was “no mention of any expenditure” in 2017.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government came under attack from the opposition parties following this RTI response.
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. 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 shambles,” Maken said.
The Congress leader slammed the AAP government and said they could have bought new buses with this money, and also augmented total parking capacity of the bus depots.
Lashing out at Kejriwal, Maken said: “Instead of using the money which is lying idle, he is busy aiming at the other state governments and the Centre instead of doing his bit.”
Maken said Kejriwal could 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,” he said.
“He (Kejriwal) is passing the buck and trying to get attention. He could have utilised Rs 787 crore… they could have bought more than 1,500 Delhi Transport Corporation buses,” he said.
He accused the Delhi government for deterioration in the DTC fleet over the last few years.
“When we were in power, the strength of the DTC was 5,445 buses, which has now gone down to 3,951 buses. There has been a shortfall of 1,500 buses in three years,” he said.
The Congress leader also said that the passenger ferrying capacity has also gone down from 46 lakh per day to 26 lakh per day.
“People have been forced to use their two-wheelers in the absence of a robust public transport system,” Maken added.