World's largest bus depot in the dumps

The much-touted world’s largest bus shed in Delhi – Millennium Park Bus Depot – is finally being demolished. Four years after it was set up on the banks of Yamuna on the pretext of upcoming Commonwealth Games, environmentalists have finally won the court battle to save the floodplains and the depot is being removed.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has declared that financial implications aside, salvaging the riverbank is most important and the process shall be completed in nine months from now.

But aren’t the costs way too high for the common man who is paying for this? About Rs 60 crore was spent on setting up the depot and now another Rs 300 crore will be expended to dismantle the one at Yamuna Bank and create a new facility elsewhere in the city. Who is accountable for this money wasted due to total mismanagement and oversight of environmental rules?

Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, who has been fighting to prevent further damage to Yamuna for years, says, “We were clearly told in 2010 that the depot is a temporary structure. We were assured that this shed is required for buses to ferry athletes from the nearby flats in Akshardham, and it will be done away with within 10 days of the Games. It is only later that we realised that they had no such plans. One feature after the other continued to be added to the depot and then we were told that it’s here to stay.”

Not just was this in violation of all environmental norms but even land bylaws were given a pass. Anand Arya, who petitioned the High Court against the structure, says, “Neither did they ever get an environmental impact assessment report made nor did they acquire this land from the DDA which is the land-owing agency of Government of India. Furthermore, when the High Court gave them a window-period of six months to get the land usage changed from ‘River’ to ‘Transport,’ they still didn’t do it and continued to keep the depot.”

Green activists charge that inspite of all the criticism and issues pointed out, the Depot was run as business-as-usual and the fuel discharge from there continued to pollute the river. “Look at the price being paid by the river. This is of course, other than the cost to the exchequer which has now gone on to Rs 360 crore. Political leaders from that time must be held accountable for this waste of funds which was totally unavoidable and unnecessary.”

When Metrolife contacted former transport minister of the previous Congress Government, Ramakant Goswami, he refused to comment on the issue. But a DTC official told us on the condition of anonymity, “This is a comedy of errors. After such a huge facility, the largest in the world, is set up in one location, you suddenly decide that it was illegal and dismantle it. We will anyway not be able to have all the features elsewhere now – the CNG filling stations, workshops, automated washing plants, air-inflation plants etc – besides the hassle.”

“Strange that a mismanagement of such epic proportions should take place in the Capital of the country – Delhi.”

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