The state transport department will start confiscating commercial vehicles over 15 years old that are still plying in the city. According to a 2008 order of Calcutta High Court, no commercial vehicle reaching the age of 15 years can ply in Kolkata Metropolitan area (KMA). However, a recent affidavit by ministry of road, transport and highways (MoRTH) revealed that more than two lakh old commercial vehicles are still plying in the metropolis.
Though Bengal transport department picked holes in the figures, its own study also showed that a large number of vehicles more 15 years old are plying within the KMA without permit, certificate of fitness (CF) and pollution under control (PUC) documents. Last year, the digital check posts set up by the transport department at entry-exit points of the city caught over 15,000 vehicles more than 15 years old entering or exiting Kolkata.
“We will keep using the digital check posts and analyse the data with our vehicle database to zero in on the non-compliant vehicles. The vehicles will be seized the moment they pass any of the entry-exit points of the city,” said a transport department official.
Environmentalists said that the city’s hope of battling pollution will be lost unless these vehicles are stopped from plying on Kolkata streets. “Since 99% of these vehicles run on diesel, they spew venom in the air. It’s a failure by the state that these vehicles still ply in the city without valid permit, CF and PUC,” said Subhas Dutta, green activist, whose legal battle led Calcutta High Court to ban commercial vehicles of more than 15 years old.
The findings of the digital check posts — which capture registration number of vehicles passing the entry-exit points of the city through closed circuit television cameras with number plate readers — are matched with KMA’s vehicular database. This revealed how these old vehicles are still plying on city roads illegally.
“The transport department has found 1,98,393 vehicles flouting emission norms between 2015 and 2019 (till April). Also, Rs 2.8 crore fine was realised during its random tests by remote sensing device. These are vehicles with valid PUC, permits and CF. If these vehicles, which are less than 15 years old, turn out to be polluters, then imagine the level of pollution being caused by vehicles that are much older,” said Dutta.
“The city’s ambient air might be within safe limit for the time being. But with the advent of winter, the ambient air quality will start worseningand the city will turn into a gas chamber,” said Somendra Mohan Ghosh, a transport emission consultant.
Source: Times of India