Calcutta, Nov. 13: After moving at snail’s pace on a high court order to ensure that vehicles conform to the Bharat Stage II emission norm by April next year, the state government today said it will ask for more time to implement the directive.
Calcutta High Court had said on April 3 this year that all vehicles plying in the Calcutta Metropolitan Area must conform to the latest emission standard within a year.
“The government will appeal for more time as it is not possible to meet the April 2004 deadline,” transport minister Subhas Chakraborty said after a meeting with transport operators and senior officials of his and the environment department.
He appealed to the transport operators to be party to the government’s appeal. While some are already with the government (they were added on in the early stages of the litigation), others have decided to “keep a watch on what grounds the government is appealing to the court” and then “explain our stand to the court as and when required”.
The transport minister ruled out the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternative fuel to meet the emission norm, citing the difficulty to procure it.
“The use of CNG has already been ruled out. It is difficult to procure it,” Chakraborty said.
“The government is focusing on replacing old cars with new ones rather than showing us the ways in which we can conform to the new emission standard by upgrading the existing engines,” complained Swarnakamal Saha, of the Bengal Bus Syndicate. His association will make a separate appeal, he said.
“The government wants to replace some old vehicles. We have been insisting that we be given the scope to comply with the norms without doing so,” echoed Abashesh Daw, general secretary of the Minibus Operators’ Coordination Committee, adding that his association was already a party in the case.
The case on automobile pollution was initiated in the high court after the Supreme Court ruled in October 2001 that a new system should be introduced to check vehicular emission.
A division bench had appointed an expert committee to chalk out a scheme to check pollution by vehicles.
The panel submitted its report before the court in June 2002 and recommended phasing out polluting vehicles from the city streets. The court threw out the proposal and said all vehicles in the city would have to conform to Bharat Stage II norms by April 2, 2004.
Sadhan Das, from the Joint Council of Bus Syndicate, said: “We are disappointed with today’s meeting, because many transport operators still have a lot of confusion on how they must comply with the Bharat-II norms. We are party in the case already.”