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Ban on pre-1990 vehicles
DEATH ROW
Number of vehicles to be affected by the order
Taxi
Bus
Auto
Minibus
Goods vehicles
9,587
7,464
6,784
1,164
Source: Transport department
survey

Calcutta, May 16: Rebuffed by the high court, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government has returned with tougher laws against old and polluting commercial vehicles.

The state government today formalised its decision to ban commercial vehicles manufactured before January 1990 from the roads of the Calcutta Metropolitan Area and set a time frame for enforcing the order.

Earlier, the state government had decided to scrap vehicles manufactured before 1975.

According to the new rules, buses, minibuses, trucks and taxis have been set a deadline of December 31, 2005. Autorickshaws have been asked to move out by August 31.

A draft notification restricting the plying of taxis, buses and minibuses, autorickshaws, trucks and other goods vehicles will be issued shortly, officials said.

The state transport department, however, has built in a provision which will allow these vehicles to ply in the metropolitan area, provided they convert to LPG.

The area covers Calcutta and Howrah and parts of North and South 24-Parganas, Nadia and Hooghly.

“Instead of just scrapping old commercial vehicles, we are giving transporters a chance to switch to green fuel,” transport minister Subhas Chakraborty said.

Chief minister Bhattacharjee gave his seal of approval to the proposed phase-out on Thursday, while Chakraborty formalised the order today by signing and endorsing it.

“We have allowed less time to autorickshaws since conversion to LPG has been on for a long time. We have been talking to autorickshaw unions about this for quite some time now,” a transport department official said.

The government’s earlier effort to phase out vehicles manufactured before 1975 was quashed by Calcutta High Court last year.

A section of vehicle-owners moved court challenging the state’s authority when the government announced that commercial vehicles manufactured before 1975 would have to move out of the metropolitan area.

The court ruled in favour of the transporters, saying there was no provision in the West Bengal Motor Vehicles Rules empowering the government to do so.

This time, however, the government has been more methodical. On January 10 this year, the transport department amended the West Bengal Motor Vehicles Rules, inserting Section 88 A. The section empowers “the state government to impose special conditions on permit, restricting plying of transport vehicles (passenger as well as goods) beyond a particular age and in any particular area of the state”.

On April 26, the cabinet formally conferred on itself the power to decide the age limit for commercial vehicles.

“Besides, this time the proposal for the phase-out was endorsed by the environment secretary as well as West Bengal Pollution Control Board officials before it was put up before the chief minister,” an official said.

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