The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Law scowl at govt smokescreen

Depending on tail-pipe emission is fine, as long as the testing centres are up to the task.

The auto emission testing centres, however, leave a lot to be desired, observed Calcutta High Court on Tuesday, before urging the state government to keep a strict vigil on them so that emission norms laid down by the Centre are followed.

The division bench, comprising Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice A.K. Bannerjee, delivering fresh judgment in the Bharat Stage II case, expressed concern over the lack of proper initiative of the transport department to monitor the functioning of the emission-test centres.

Advocate-general Balai Ray, however, claimed that the transport department does carry out regular inspections to monitor the testing centres.

But the division bench was not convinced. “The auto emission testing centres are not properly checked and the machines are not calibrated. There is a deficiency on the part of the transport department to see whether the centres are functioning according to the rules. There is also no arrangement of mobile checking, with police having only two vehicles for the purpose,” the chief justice told the advocate-general.

S.P. Banerjee, lawyer representing the Automobile Association of Eastern India, told the court: “Now, it is very easy to get a pollution-under-control certificate from any of the testing centres. Anybody can go to any centre and get a certificate by paying a price.”

According to the existing practice of emission testing, a sensor pipe is placed inside the tail-pipe of the vehicle while the engine is running and the smoke content is measured with a gas analyser. There are complaints ranging from callousness to corruption against the test centres.

The court on Tuesday focused on this fact and directed the government to ensure frequent checks on the centres. “Check the testing centres properly and take immediate and stern action against those found to be flouting norms,’’ the court added.

The division bench also asked the government not to waste any more time, as the effective date for implementing the new emission standards was six months away.

“Don’t enjoy the period as a holiday. Take effective steps and initiatives from now to ensure that all vehicles plying throughout the state conform to the new emission standard,’’ ordered Chief Justice Mathur and Justice Bannerjee.

Transport department officials, meanwhile, said they would not waste a single day.

“We shall prepare a plan of action to tighten vigil on the emission testing centres within a week. Besides, we will soon hold a meeting with all transporters to guide them on the new norms,’’ said public vehicles department director and transport department joint secretary H. Mohan.

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