Article from NDTV
NEW DELHI: At a time when Delhi is gasping for some fresh air amid alarming levels of air pollution, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday gifted Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan a pollution free electric bus.
Coloured in green and blue, the message in the 15-seater eco-friendly bus stood out: Go Green. The bus – a collaborative effort between the Union Transport Ministry and Pune-based technology company KPIT – has been converted from diesel to electric and will be used to ferry Parliamentarians.
The noiseless bus can save carbon dioxide emissions up to 48,000 kg a year. That’s equal to planting 2400 plants annually. It will also save diesel worth Rs. 10 lakh a year.
“Discussions of environment have been taking for long, but for the last few years, its negative impact has been felt on normal human lives… There is a challenge before the mankind to find a solution to this problem,” PM Modi said at a small handing over function within Parliament.
Not many of our lawmakers though are adding to such efforts of finding an effective solution. Of the 788 lawmakers in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, nearly 500 don’t use a common car pool or the ferry service. They come in their own vehicles and that too mostly in diesel SUVs or luxury sedans.
Parliament records don’t give an exact number of diesel SUVs but our 45 minute long wait at just one gate – MPs mostly use four gates – that our lawmakers use gave us a clear idea. SUVs, more SUVs and still more SUVs.
Opinion among our lawmakers was divided even on the Supreme Court’s three-month direction that all diesel vehicles will be banned from being registered in Delhi from January 1 next year.
“This can’t be a permanent solution,” said Congress’ Rajya Sabha member Pramod Tiwari who himself drives a Mercedes SUV. Disagrees fellow Rajya Sabha member Sitaram Yechury who calls SUVs “a dinosaur on roads as they eat up parking space and also pollute.”
Young Congress lawmaker Gaurav Gogoi, who had created a buzz by wearing a mask to parliament two weeks ago, said: “As public representatives, we need to be careful about our choices.”
The government says lawmakers can’t be forced to adopt cleaner technology vehicles without offering more options. “The problem is that there are not many options. And you cannot make anything mandatory without giving options,” said Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.
And even before such cleaner options emerge, four lawmakers have already switched over to the cleanest mode of transport: using bicycles to commute.