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Transport body threatens to sue AAI on diesel-run coaches issue

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, July 3 (UNI) A leading transport body has threatened to launch legal proceedings against the Centre, the Delhi Government, the Civil Aviation Ministry and Airport Authority of India (AAI) for defying a Supreme Court order banning operation of diesel-powered tarmac coaches at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

The legal notice, served by the Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT), points out that the apex court had ordered diesel-run commercial vehicle would ply beyond March 31, 2002.

''However, the AAI continues to operate diesel-run tarmac coaches, buses and other vehicles at IGI Airport'', said the IFTRT, which has been monitoring the implication and impact of the court order to run passenger coaches and buses in Delhi on single fuel mode of compressed natural gas (CNG).

The Supreme Court had ordered that all the commercial vehicles operators and agencies would not ply diesel run commercial vehicles beyond March 31, 2002.

The court had pronounced the order on a petition that vehicular emission level was a serious reason for degrading the air quality in Delhi.

The IFTRT said it was shocked to find that majority of tarmac coaches and buses operating at the IGI airport were running on diesel fuel. ''The regulatory and controlling government agency at the airport -- Airport Authority of India -- had remained oblivious of its duty since March 2002 to direct all airlines and bus operators to convert or replace their tarmac coaches to the CNG fuel mode.

In a belated move, the AAI, on November 24, 2005, informed various airlines that the airport entry of non-CNG coaches would be totally stopped from February 15 this year.

The letter states: ''Airports Authority has taken the view of Additional Solicitor General of India, and he opined that being a Government Authority, Airport Authority of India must abide by the decisions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in letter and spirit.'' To avoid operational problem that could be created because of immediate cancellation of issued passes and stoppage of issuing of passes to the coaches which are plying in the operational area at IGI airport, it was decided to allow a timeframe of three months -- up to February 15 -- for switching over to the CNG mode.

''The Airport Entry Passes on Non-CNG coaches shall not be renewed by AAI after 15.02.2006 for diesel coaches," the order said.

The IFTRT said the AAI authorities had not been able to provide any cogent reason why various airlines were not forced to obey the court order to put up CNG-run buses and coaches within the stipulated timeframe.

Alleging that the AAI, airlines and private operators had all along been blatantly violating the court order, it said that instead of removing 8-10 years old diesel coaches from the operational area of Delhi Airport, new diesel-run buses were being drafted into service.

''The most glaring has been initiative of GMR company (engaged in modernisation of the IGI airport) encouraging diesel-run buses even at this juncture,'' it said, adding that at present almost 70-80 per cent of the bus fleet at IGI airport remains to be diesel run in total contravention of the court order.

The IFTRT said the apex court judgement had left no ambiguity in the strict enforcement of its order on operating buses and coaches on clean fuel.

While issuing the notice, the IFTRT also sought a categorical response from all the concerned parties on the need to seek the opinion of Solicitor General on the meaning and impact of the apex court order and why his opinion was avoided for almost four years after the court pronounced its verdict.

UNI SKS MSJ GC1730

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