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HC scan on road fumes

Poison fumes in the city will come under the high court scanner when it takes up a petition demanding implementation of recommendations by experts on the issue. The plea is likely to be heard next week.

A fortnight ago, during the hearing of a petition by environment activist Subhas Dutta on vehicular pollution in the city at night, the high court had asked him why he had not mentioned pollution during the day in the plea.

Dutta told the court that it had disposed of a case filed by him relating to auto emission during the day in 2005. The division bench, comprising Chief Justice S.S. Nijjar and Justice P.C. Ghosh, expressed eagerness to hear the matter again and asked Dutta to file a fresh petition.

“Road space in the city is less than five per cent of the total geographical area. Between 1.25 million and 1.45 million vehicles ply on these roads daily. More than 54 per cent of the vehicles are more than 15 years old,” said Dutta on Sunday, quoting a recent World Bank report.

He said his fresh petition would include documents providing relevant data. “Pollution due to auto emission is a matter of concern. The major cities are under the supervision of the Supreme Court or the high courts in this regard. In Calcutta, there is no one to look after the matter. As a result, air pollution in the city is among the highest in the country,” stated Dutta.

In 2002, the apex court had decided to formulate a uniform policy to solve emission problems across the country and asked the state governments to come up with action plans.

The Bengal government, subsequently, presented its plan. “As cases related to auto emission were being heard by Bombay and Calcutta high courts, the Supreme Court decided not to intervene in the matter,” said Dutta.

He added: “During the hearing of the earlier case by the high court, an expert panel set up by the state government had made 55 recommendations for controlling the level of pollution due to automobile exhaust. The case was disposed of in July 2005, when the government informed the court that auto emission testing centres had been set up in the city. Setting up the centres was just one of the recommendations of the expert committee. The other 54 recommendations have not been implemented.”

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