What Delhi did yesterday, Calcutta might be forced to do tomorrow.
What pressure from the Supreme Court did in Delhi, prodding from the high court can finally do in Calcutta.
Calcutta High Court on Friday directed petitioner Subhas Dutta to compile and submit the clean-air steps taken by the Delhi government under the stern gaze of the apex court.
“It’s a fact that air pollution is very high in Calcutta. We would like to know in detail the process undertaken to tackle air pollution in Delhi,” said Chief Justice S.S. Nijjar and Justice Indira Banerjee.
The petitioner had earlier urged the court to play a role similar to the one played by the Supreme Court — through a cross-functional technical committee — in forcing the Delhi government to clean up its act. Dutta has been asked to present the Delhi model to the high court on April 18.
Under pressure from the Supreme Court, the Delhi government had phased out 15-year-old vehicles, put a cap on the number of three-wheelers and implemented one of the largest compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle programme.
Two cases — one on how there is no night-time monitoring of vehicular emission and the other on the general levels of air pollution in Calcutta — came up for hearing on Friday.
The bench rapped the report of transport secretary Sumantra Chowdhury, in which he refers to heavy vehicular traffic pollution at night and admits that there is no infrastructure to monitor vehicular emission between 11pm and 8am.
“That is not acceptable. There must be a system to keep a check on automobile pollution at night, particularly since the heavy vehicles roll in,” observed the bench.
As for the poison air in Calcutta, the bench expressed concern and wanted to know what steps had been taken by the other metros.
It was then that Dutta pointed out that Calcutta is the only metro where the battle against air pollution is not under a judicial scanner. The environment pollution in all other metros is being monitored by either the Supreme Court or the high courts.
Dutta pleaded for the formation of a committee, like in Delhi, to oversee the implementation of the clean-air programme that Calcutta so desperately needs.
This comes two days after Metro had highlighted how the pollution control board had finally managed to convince transport minister Subhas Chakraborty, at a closed-door meeting, that the air pollution count in Calcutta has reached fatal proportions, largely due to toxic vehicular emissions.