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Delhi government looks to rent space to park buses

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New Delhi, With ambitious plans to buy 10,000 more buses, the Delhi government is considering a proposal to rent space in the city to park the huge fleet.

Even now, the administration finds there is not enough space to park at night it’s 4,700 Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses and 1,300 ‘cluster buses’, which operate on a public-private partnership basis. BusesDelhiDTC

“We are exploring the possibility of renting open space for parking buses at night,” a government official said.

The DTC claims to run the world’s biggest fleet of buses operating on clean fuel. Along with Delhi Metro, it offers the cheapest mode of public transport in the capital.

There are 46 DTC depots in the capital now. Officials say they together cannot accommodate even the entire existing fleet.

This forces drivers to park hundreds of buses by the roadside at night, leading at times to harassment at the hands of Delhi Police, who don’t report to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-controlled Delhi government.

The Delhi government needs land to create more bus depots. But land is a central government subject in the National Capital Region. And land is costly too.

“We will see if large chunks of land like school playgrounds and other areas are available at night on rent,” the Delhi government official said.

“At times, police harass bus drivers because they park their vehicles at non-designated spots,” the official said. “It is all because of the land crisis in the capital.”

The official said the city government needed 200 acres to park its fleet of buses but had only 10 acres of dedicated space at its disposal.

“In any case, the depots are small in size and always crammed,” he added.

In order to encourage people to switch to public transport, the Delhi government has announced that it will buy 10,000 more buses. It says the central government is not giving it land for more bus depots.

Recently, the city government sought 500 acres from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the capital’s land owning agency which is controlled by the central government.

“One acre of commercial land costs about Rs.50 crore. You can imagine that we will have to shell out thousands of crores of rupees just to create bus depots,” the official said, adding that the AAP government didn’t have so much money to spend on this project.

About 4.5 million people commute by DTC buses daily. This comes to a poor ratio of one bus for 1,000 passengers.

“There is massive shortage of buses in the capital,” the official explained, detailing the woes of the capital where despite Delhi Metro’s services, public transport remains a major issue.

“The main reason is parking space. How will we augment the numbers of buses if there is no parking space? We don’t have space for the existing buses, let alone the required space for an additional 10,000 buses.”

(IANS)

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AAP’S Media Spend Is Four Times That Of Previous Government: RTI Reply

A 2017 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report found that the Delhi government had spent 86 percent of the total budget for its media campaign celebrating the completion of AAP's one year in power in 2016

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Picture of Arvind Kejriwal addressing a rally. Wikimedia Commons
  • The average annual expenditure of the AAP government on advertisements from April 2015 to December 2017 was Rs 70.5 crore
  • The AAP government’s spending on advertisements increased by about 300 percent compared to the Congress government
  • A 2017 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report found that the Delhi government had spent 86 percent of the total budget for its media campaign celebrating the completion of AAP’s one year in power in 2016

The AAP government has spent an average of Rs 70.5 crore annually in the past three years on advertisements — four times more than the previous government’s expenditure on print, electronic and outdoor advertising, according to an RTI reply.

In the first year after assuming office in February 2015, the current government spent Rs 59.9 crore on advertisements, Rs 66.3 crore the next year and Rs 85.3 crore up to December 31, 2017, the Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIP) said in reply to an RTI application by IANS.

The average annual expenditure of the AAP government on advertisements from April 2015 to December 2017 was Rs 70.5 crore. The Congress’ average was Rs 17.4 crore in the last five years of its rule (2008-2013).

Also Read: AAP welcomes BJP’s stand on inter-faith marriages

According to the DIP, the expenditure includes, among others, advertisements with photos of the Chief Minister and other ministers in newspapers and hoardings, commercial spots on TV and radio, and tender notices published in newspapers.

For instance, when the AAP government completed its first and second anniversary in 2016 and 2017, leading newspapers in the capital carried full-page advertisements, highlighting the achievements of the government.

The Delhi government approached the High Court and the matter is currently pending there. Wikimedia Commons
The Delhi government approached the High Court and the matter is currently pending there. Wikimedia Commons

In the run-up to celebrating its three years in office, the government in the first two weeks of February carried advertisements flashing pictures of the Chief Minister or other ministers. The highlights included the inauguration of community toilets, excellence awards distribution for students, a government meeting on “smart gaon”, and invitation of applications for scholarship schemes.

The AAP government’s spending on advertisements increased by about 300 percent compared to the Congress government.

Also Read: Blow for Kejriwal: EC recommends disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs

But the average advertisement rate charged by a leading English newspaper, comparing the Congress government and AAP government periods, has increased by about 17 percent, according to DAVP.

For the same period, the average rate charged by another leading English newspaper has increased by about 35 percent.

A 2017 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report found that the Delhi government had spent 86 percent of the total budget for its media campaign celebrating the completion of AAP’s one year in power in 2016.

According to the DIP, the expenditure includes, among others, advertisements with photos of the Chief Minister and other ministers in newspapers and hoardings, commercial spots on TV and radio, and tender notices published in newspapers. Wikimedia Commons
According to the DIP, the expenditure includes, among others, advertisements with photos of the Chief Minister and other ministers in newspapers and hoardings, commercial spots on TV and radio, and tender notices published in newspapers. Wikimedia Commons

The auditor pulled up the government for using the name of the party in the advertisements.

Last year, the government came under an opposition attack after Lt. Governor Anil Baijal asked the AAP to cough up Rs 97 crore spent on advertisements, allegedly to promote the party instead of the government. The LG order was based on a report by the Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA).

Also Read: 5 Years of AAP: How Society Has Been Backstabbed by ChandaChor Kejriwal

The regulatory authority asked the Delhi government to assess the expenditure in issuing “those advertisements/advertorials in which the name of the Aam Aadmi Party is mentioned” and other factors.

The Delhi government approached the High Court and the matter is currently pending there.

Delhi government spokesperson Nagendar Sharma said he has “no comments” to offer on the increase in expenditure.

The auditor pulled up the government for using the name of the party in the advertisements. Wikimedia Commons
The auditor pulled up the government for using the name of the party in the advertisements. Wikimedia Commons

Delhi Congress President Ajay Maken said: “They (AAP) are using the power of advertisements to put pressure on TV (channels) and newspapers. They are doing it ruthlessly”.

BJP MLA and Delhi Assembly Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta termed the government’s spending on advertisements as “irrational”. “Misuse of public money in this way is completely unjustified and unethical,” Gupta told IANS. (IANS)