The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Car owners beware, bump ahead

Calcutta, March 19: With a fortnight to go before the expiry of a high court deadline on Bharat Stage II compliance, the government today began framing guidelines for implementing the order.

Faced with the enormity of the task and having done little to implement the court’s order over the last one year, transport minister Subhas Chakraborty met senior officials of his department to draw up a notification informing vehicle owners of a “code of conduct” once the order becomes effective on April 2.

Whether the court extends the deadline or not, the draft guidelines indicate that over 12 lakh cars in the Calcutta Metropolitan Area (CMA) will have to conform to the BS II norms eventually.

Unlike in the case of Delhi, where private vehicles have remained unaffected, Calcutta High Court’s order has brought within its purview all categories of vehicles, both private and commercial.

However, the state government is still hoping to get a brief reprieve, till at least September, when it approaches the high court on March 26 pleading for an extension of the deadline. It will plead that the central government has still not notified the tail pipe emission standards for BS II, which it is expected to do by September this year.

The state government will also tell the court that with polls around the corner, it does not want to throw the transport sector into disarray by virtually stalling the movement of vehicles in the CMA. Transport operators have informed the government that they are in no position to carry out the court’s order because of the “massive expenses involved”.

“We have recently received the report of the technical committee which had been set up to explore ways of implementing the court’s order,” said Chakraborty. “The committee has outlined some of the difficulties in implementing the ruling immediately and this shall be conveyed to the court.”

He said that at today’s meeting, his department discussed the “most efficient means” of implementing the court’s order in the event of the deadline not being extended.

“Many people will be unhappy, many will also make losses and a huge number of people will face difficulties,” Chakraborty said.

“But if the court does not relent, its order will have to be implemented.”

Transport department officials underline the “almost total unpreparedness” of the government in undertaking a task which includes nearly 15 lakh vehicles.

The government has given its approval to 40 “LPG fitment centres” where petrol cars would be equipped with the kits to enable them to run on LPG. But this would hardly be able to handle the rush of lakhs of cars, transport officials admitted.

The Automobile Association of Eastern India has decided to move the high court to exempt private cars from the purview of the order as was the case in Delhi.

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