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Trucks roll past terminals
- Empty parking zones prompt order to stop goods carriers from entering city

The grand plan was to rid the city of trucks and their fumes by creating terminals at all major entry points. The trucks would stop there and unload the goods, to be ferried into the city by smaller, less-polluting vehicles.

The ground reality being quite the opposite, the transport department is planning to slam the brakes on the big smoke-belchers.

Three of the seven proposed terminals are in place, yet almost every big truck in the business treats them like no-entry zones.

They continue to roll into the city during hours permissible ' and often beyond ' causing traffic snarls and pushing up pollution levels.

'We had requested the operators to unload their goods at the terminals and return from there. But they have decided to ignore this,' admitted transport secretary Sumantra Chowdhury. 'Even though the Dhulagarh and Budge Budge terminals are ready, very few trucks stop there.'

Chowdhury said his department would soon issue an order banning trucks from entering the city along the roads where the terminals are ready.

'That is really the only way to to keep the city free of chaotic traffic and the environment clean,' he said.

At the instance of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the transport department had decided to build truck terminals at seven entry points ' Dhulagarh, Budge Budge, Kona, Madhyamgram, Baranagar, Dankuni and Rajarhat.

But nearly 55,000 trucks ' most over 20 years old and belching smoke ' keep entering the city every day from various states and districts.

The truck is a prime enemy in the city's battle against poison fumes, accounting for 16 per cent of vehicular pollution.

According to an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report submitted to the government in March 2005, the annual emission of respiratory particulate matter (RPM) in the city is a killer 15,810 tonnes, with trucks largely to blame, along with buses and auto-rickshaws.

So, a truck-free city would definitely be a breath of fresh air. 'Emissions from old trucks raise the level of RPM, suspended particulate matter (SPM), nitrogen oxide and many toxic compounds that can cause lung cancer, asthma, respiratory diseases and cardiac problems. Pollution levels can be brought down to some extent if movement of trucks can be prevented,' said Sudip Bandopadhyay, chairman of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board.

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