Pollution on wheels: India Today tackles illegal buses driving with impunity in smog-suffocating Delhi

The India Today probe found that unauthorized diesel-guzzling buses drove in and out of Delhi with impunity as the NCR battled suffocating smog in the first week of November.

Air Pollution in Delhi

The buses picked up and dropped passengers at three designated terminals in Delhi. (Representative photo)

By Md Hezbollah, Nitin Jain: An India Today investigation found that some buses continued to pump out toxic exhaust fumes as Delhi struggled again this year with its annual environmental crisis. Unauthorized diesel-guzzling buses drove in and out of Delhi with impunity as the NCR battled suffocating smog in the first week of November, the probe found.

A traffic cop on duty at the Delhi-Noida border asked an undercover reporter from the team to pay Rs 2,000 per month as payment for unauthorized travel.


The dire state of transport enforcement in Delhi was caught on camera as fleets of these buses passed patrol cars along the border with Noida. Buses with valid interstate permits picked up and dropped off passengers at three designated terminals at Kashmiri Gate, Anand Vihar and Sarai Kale Khan.

ALSO READ | BS-4 ban on diesel vehicles goes up in smoke, 11% of car owners in Delhi-NCR don’t care

Despite the fight against pollution being at its peak in the NCR region of Delhi, India Today’s investigative team found that they were conducting their illegal operations from the Red Fort area, Akshardham, Mayur Vihar and the Noida border.

With most seats already booked online, India Today found a fleet of private buses ready to board in the Red Fort area.

A driver told the team: “We have collected the passengers from the Mori Gate in Delhi and we are going to Gorakhpur. We have to pay them (enforcement inspectors) Rs 500 for a trip.

Their operator, Shadab, confessed that this was a totally unsanctioned operation, aided by bribes to transport and traffic officials from several states, including Delhi.

“They are tied to Bihar,” he said of his buses. “We pay (bribes) wherever we are stopped. Some places have a (fixed) entry (monthly bribes). If there is a law and we get caught (break it), we have to pay something.”

ALSO READ | Commercial diesel trucks banned in Delhi as air quality drops to ‘severe’


According to Shadab, he has to smear palms at seven locations in Delhi alone. “Look, this vehicle is illegal. It’s not legal. Such a bus running in Delhi is not legal. It is between Rs 2,000 to 3,000 rupees that we have to pay per point. Inspectors from the Regional Transport Agency (RTO) and the local police are paid separately,” he added.

An experienced transporter in the area for decades, Pappu gave the breakdown of the bribes he claimed to pay at every signal in Delhi before crossing the state line.

“It’s the same for all of us in Delhi — Rs 2,000 (per month) at every point. Then there is an additional Rs 2,000 for the on-duty Traffic Inspector (TI) on every fourth point,” he said.

ALSO READ | Delhi toxic air: Govt fined polluting vehicles Rs 20,000

When asked about payments in Noida, Pappu said, “We pay the RTO in Noida. Others record it on the spot. It is Rs 300 (in bribes per trip).”

A traffic cop on duty along the Delhi-Noida border, who had hidden his name badge, confirmed the amount of bribes paid by operators such as Shadab and Pappu for their unauthorized travel.

He demanded Rs 2,000 per month for a bus from India Today reporters posing as carriers.

“Is that your own car?” he asked. “Yes, in cooperation,” replied the undercover journalist.

The officer then took the reporter to a police tent and said, “It’s Rs 2,000 per entry (in monthly bribes). Bring it now if you want it done, but that’s only for traffic (ward) crossing the border. It is fully guaranteed. I’m here.”

The agent clarified that the payment was for one month only.

ALSO READ | Smog on, sambhog gone: This is how the air in Delhi is killing your sex life


Similar Posts