The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Delhi government to explain why it had failed to utilise funds for augmenting its bus fleet.

A bench of justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta said the Delhi government should file an affidavit on this within two weeks before going ahead with its proposal to induct 1000 electric buses for Delhi to check pollution.

The government has been collecting an environment compensation charge (ECC) from commercial goods vehicles in Delhi and generated a fund of Rs 999 crore, which it is keen to invest in e-buses.

But the Supreme Court-appointed panel, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, has opposed the proposal.

In its report to the court, the EPCA said it reviewed the past budgets of the Delhi government and found that funds allocated for transport department, including for the procurement of buses, were never utilised.

“Therefore, it is assumed that the allocated and earmarked funds for bus procurement lapsed at the end of the budget year,” the EPCA report said.

The authority said the government’s proposal to purchase the buses lacked details of availability, infrastructure and specifications of the buses.

The court has asked the government to provide all these details in its affidavit, which should also indicate how much time will be needed to set up charging stations for the buses.

The judges told both the EPCA and the government to explore the possibility of inducting hydrogen cell buses, which already under manufacture by an Indian automobile company.

“EPCA is not in a position to recommend that the Supreme Court should clear the proposal as given in the application of the Delhi government. The government of NCT Delhi has not done sufficient work to detail out the proposal for induction of 1000 e-buses and its necessary infrastructure,” read the EPCA report.

The panel, however, specified it was not against the procurement but the proposal should have more information to give a final view.

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