The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hiccup, hope in court
Bharat II: time out

The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government cannot meet the Bharat Stage II deadline of April 2 set by the court.

This was the ‘humble submission’ of the government on Friday before Calcutta High Court.

Appearing for the state, advocate-general Balai Ray informed the court that, unlike in Mumbai and Delhi, the vehicles currently plying in Calcutta could not be converted to compressed natural gas (CNG) as it was not readily available here.

“It could be successfully done in Mumbai or Delhi because of the easy availability of the gas,” Ray pointed out. “But the situation is different in Calcutta. Also, we are unable to import the gas from Bangladesh because of political reasons.”

Ray said the Union government was in no position, either, to make arrangements for the supply of CNG in such a short period. He went on to stress the need for better infrastructure to bring CNG into the state.

A lawyer representing the Centre supported the view of the state government and affirmed that introducing CNG in Calcutta was not an “easy task”.

Alarmed at the high level of pollution caused by auto emission, the court has been urging the government for months to ensure that engines of a few lakh buses, private cars and taxis plying in the Calcutta Metropolitan Area (CMA) were made BS-II compliant by April.

With the failure to meet the deadline being made official on Friday, presiding judge Chief Justice A.K. Mathur asked the lawyers of the state and central government what they had been doing for the past one year.

“Why did you not inform me about the problem earlier' You should have informed the court about it,” said the chief justice.

He then pointed out to advocate-general Ray that the state government had failed to convert even a single public vehicle in the CMA. “Don’t you think that at least a few vehicles could have been converted in the meantime'”

At this, Ray claimed that the state government had made an effort to comply with the earlier high court order.

The chief justice then asked the state government to file an affidavit by March 26, stating what steps had been taken by it regarding implementation of Bharat Stage II in the CMA.

Appearing on behalf of a private respondent, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya supported the government’s view and told the court that owners of individual vehicles should get some more time to convert to Bharat Stage II standards.

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