Lok Sabha Secretariat and Delhi government appeared at loggerheads today over the issue of exemption to MPs from Odd Even Scheme with a senior Parliament official snubbing the AAP government over its decision to discontinue 'MP Special' bus service and asserting it is "competent enough" to take care of Parliamentarians.
Speaking at a hurriedly called press conference, Secretary in Lok Sabha Secretariat D Bhalla also reminded the Delhi government that Parliament was "paying" for the bus service provided by Delhi government.
"We had not made any request to them (AAP government) to provide any such help. It was their offer. This is ridiculous to say that they have been doing this or that for the MPs. We do not need any mercy. And the bus service provided by the Delhi government was not free of cost. Parliament Secretariat was supposed to pay Rs 12,000 per day for each bus. Since it was not used, we said no to them.
"Is the act of MPs coming to Parliament to discuss bills is not important?. Whether MPs come to attend Parliament or standing Committees, they come here to take decisions related to people of the country, which includes the people of Delhi," Bhalla said wondering whether the members do not deserve exemption" from the Odd Even Scheme.
At the same time, Bhalla said, "We, however, leave it to the sagacity of Delhi government. We are not angry with Delhi government. Did any MP say that he was against the Odd Even. We welcome the Odd Even Scheme."
Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Tezpur, Assam, RP Sarma today came to Parliament on a horse. However, Delhi police stopped him near Rail Bhavan and did not allow the horse to proceed towards Parliament. There was also a wooden board hanging from the neck of the horse that read "pollution free vehicle", an apparent criticism of the Odd Even Scheme.
When asked by journalists, Sarma said that he had an even number vehicle and cannot afford to buy another odd one to travel on odd days. Replying to questions about the availability of buses to ferry MPs from their homes, he said that there are "no buses" and insisted that there are "only few vehicles" to ferry the MPs, that prompted him to come to Parliament on horse.
Six Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses were converted to MP Specials to ferry MPs in view of odd even restrictions in the wake of the current session of Parliament beginning Monday.
The Delhi government, however, scrapped on Wednesday the bus service following a poor response from Parliamentarians for two straight days.
(REOPENS DEL 27)
When the House had begun on Monday, the MPs in Parliament had attacked the Delhi government on Odd Even Scheme and not being exempted from it and had demanded that the number of passes issues to them should be increased from one to two.
"This demand of increasing Parliament passes for the vehicles of MPs from one to two is under active consideration. We are keen to resolve any problem in the communication of MPs to Parliament. The vehicles so far arranged are sufficient for smooth and hassle free ferrying of MPs," Bhalla said.
Listing measures taken by Parliament Secretariat to redress concerns of MPs emerging from the vehicle rationing formula of Delhi government, Bhalla said that the transport desk, which facilitates the ferrying of MPs from their residences in Delhi to Parliament and vice versa, has 25 vehicles including 10 of Lok Sabha, eight of Rajya Sabha and seven DTC buses.
In a statement, the Lok Sabha Secretariat said that due to Odd Even formula announced by the government of Delhi, only 13 vehicles (six from Lok Sabha, four from Rajya Sabha and three DTC) are available on even dates while 12 vehicles (four each from Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and DTC) are available for odd dates.
"In order to ensure smooth and hassle free ferrying of MPs, six low floor buses were hired from DTC on April 25 but these could not be successful and were released on the same evening.
Immediately, the ITDC officials were called and nine AC vehicles have been hired from them from June 26 to June 29. 10 vehicles have also been hired from the Parliament Security Service," it said in the statement.