The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Old cars, gas it or be gone

All old vehicles running on petrol must convert to LPG or be kept out of city limits. Passengers in a bus bound for Calcutta from the districts must ‘break journey’ at designated ‘border’ points and switch to another bus to take them into the city. Buses in the city must pick up and drop passengers only at designated stops bearing the name of that particular route. Drivers stuck in a traffic jam must be told not to honk and add to the noise pollution…

These are some of the decisive — if diverse — suggestions that the state transport department is ready to submit to the high court green bench. These proposed regulations are aimed at reducing pollution in a city where over 800,000 vehicles hit the streets every day and vehicle-density is among the highest in the country.

The expert committee formed following a green bench prod over the government’s failure to clarify its stand on phasing out old vehicles (15 years and above) has suggested the following:

4All old vehicles to convert to LPG if they want to run on city streets

4If they cannot effect the switch, they ply only in the districts

4Old diesel cars can also be run with new Bharat-II engines

The report, to be submitted after the Pujas next month, suggests severe restrictions on the movement of buses. Passengers wishing to come into Calcutta will have to get off at designated points on the city’s boundaries with Howrah and North and South 24-Parganas. Buses designated to ply strictly within city limits will then take these passengers to their destinations.

The terminal points identified by the committee include Garia, Amtala, Chiriamore (on B.T. Road), the west-bank end on the approach to Howrah bridge and Bally bridge, Champadali More in Barasat and Shampamirza Nagar, near Budge Budge.

For buses and minibuses plying in the city, the report wants:

4The distance between bus stops to be increased for better traffic flow

4No common stops for all buses

4Buses will only stop at points where their numbers are mentioned (for example, one south-bound bus can stop at Dhakuria, while another could stop at Jadavpur thana). This will prevent crowding at intersections

4Buses and minibuses will pick up passengers only from bus stops. Any violation will invite a stiff penalty

4Old buses and minibuses will be junked or their owners asked to stick to the districts

The state transport department, meanwhile, has expressed its intention in the report to scrap its old fleet of buses and introduce value-added services, in the form of executive-class buses.

The traffic-reform report also identifies factors contributing to “non-fuel pollution” on the city streets:

4Drivers blowing their horns indiscriminately while stuck in traffic jams add to the noise pollution

4Old diesel engines of buses and trucks that are never switched off, add to the noise pollution

4Poor road surface adds to the suspended particulate matter (spm) in the air every time a vehicle passes over it.

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