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Deadline for deadly autos

Calcutta, Dec. 23: Calcutta High Court today refused to extend the deadline for old and polluting autorickshaws.

The three-wheeler phaseout was to happen in three phases — all two-stroke autos by December 31, all four-stroke autos not converted to clean fuel plying within the Calcutta Municipal Corporation area by March 31, all four-stroke autos not converted to clean fuel plying within the greater Calcutta area by December 31, 2009.

The Autorickshaw Operators’ Association had moved the court and sought an extension of the deadline that had been set on July 18.

“There is no question of extending the time limit. Ask the government to strictly comply with the decision of banning polluting auto-rickshaws from the roads,” a bench headed by Chief Justice S.S. Nijjar told advocate general Balai Ray.

“The court order will be carried out by the government,” said Ray. If the government keeps its word, around 35,000 registered two-stroke autos will be scrapped on the first day of January.

Around 2,000 four-stroke autos have been converted to LPG till now, so another 2,000-plus such vehicles will have to convert to clean fuel or face the axe on March 31. That would still leave around 25,000 unregistered autos plying on and polluting the Calcutta streets.

The bench today made it clear that it did not want to hear the matter, and urged the government to go ahead with the ban-auto programme.

“I haven’t seen the court order but it has to be complied with, come what may. If there is resistance, police administration will have to act,” said transport secretary Sumantra Chowdhury.

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