Sunday, Apr 07, 2002
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By Our Staff Reporter
(The court had, on Friday, passed orders saying that till all the diesel buses were converted to the compressed natural gas fuel mode, the owners of the diesel buses should pay a fine of Rs. 500 a bus a day for 30 days from today and Rs. 1000 a bus a day 30 days thereafter).
Being a Saturday, the impact of the truncated bus fleet was not felt much as most offices and schools remained closed. In the morning and evening hours, though, the buses were jam-packed.
Fearing heavy penalty, diesel bus owners decided in advance not to ply their vehicles. Nevertheless, a few diesel buses were seen plying at "their own risk.'' No case of fining was reported. The auto-rickshaws and 1,500 RTVs (rural transport vehicles) had a field day.
Monday could see things turn grim when the offices, colleges and schools open after the weekend. Fearing that the situation might go out of hand with only 6,500 CNG vehicles available to bear the load of the city's public transport, the Delhi Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, today hinted at closing the schools. Stating that her Government would concentrate only on the problems related to CNG, Ms. Dikshit said all transporters who had a permit for diesel buses would have to pay the fine whether they operated their buses or not. "The only way to skip fine is to surrender their permits.''
A helpline would be launched soon to deal with the people's problems arising out of the CNG issue, she said, besides hinting at a hike in bus fares. Her Government was planning to ply CNG buses as per the requirements so as not to inconvenience the people.
``More buses will be deployed on routes where commuter traffic is high. Transport Department's mobile squads will continuously monitor the situation and try to ease things out. We will ensure optimum utilisation of buses that we have at our disposal,'' she said.
Meanwhile, the joint action committee of private bus operators, which has already met all the seven Bharatiya Janata Party MPs from Delhi, besides some prominent Congress leaders, has intensified its efforts to find a solution to the problem.
Claiming that even the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, had been briefed about the problems and urged to find a solution, an office-bearer of the committee said "much depends on our meeting with the Union Petroleum Minister, Ram Naik, on Monday.''
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