The high court on Monday asked the state transport secretary to file a report by February 22 stating the number of commercial vehicles 15 years and older still plying in the Calcutta metropolitan area.
The division bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi also asked the secretary to mention the number of illegal autorickshaws plying in the metropolitan area.
The bench issued the twin orders after going through a report filed last September by then transport secretary B.P. Gopalika. The report came under the bench’s scanner on Monday after a case related to the phasing out of old commercial vehicles came up for hearing.
Subhas Datta, environment activist and petitioner in the case, quoted a statement from the report, which he said was false.
“It seems that most of 15-year-old vehicles registered between January 1, 1993, and August 31, 1997, have already been phased out,” Gopalika’s report had stated.
“Many commercial vehicles more than 15 years old are still plying in the Calcutta metropolitan area. The transport department is renewing the licences of these vehicles. The court should ask the government to file an affidavit stating the number of commercial vehicles 15 years and older still plying,” Datta submitted.
Referring to another part of the report, he said: “The principal secretary said illegal vehicles which were not scrapped by their owners would be considered for registration outside the Calcutta metropolitan area....
“A government department cannot act like this. The vehicles not being allowed to ply within the city to prevent pollution cannot be allowed to ply outside as well.”
The petitioner pointed out that two-stroke autos were plying in the metropolitan area in large numbers despite the high court ban on them.
Datta pleaded with the court to interfere in the matter as the autos are polluting the air. Following the submission, the bench asked the transport secretary to file the reports on old commercial vehicles and illegal autos.