The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha vows war on auto emission

Calcutta, June 5: As vehicles continue to pollute the city’s air, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today reiterated his resolve to bring about comprehensive legislation to curb auto emission, protect water bodies and prevent indiscriminate tree felling.

At a function organised by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) on World Environment Day at Paribesh Bhavan, Bhattacharjee expressed concern over the increase in auto emission in the city and called for stringent measures to contain the menace.

“The number of vehicles is increasing rapidly, adding to the problem of auto emission. Time has come to take serious steps to check the menace and save the environment from an impending disaster. We will also have to keep in mind the potential health hazards caused by auto emission,” he said.

The chief minister conceded that it was tough keeping tabs on the eight lakh vehicles plying in the city, but did not lose heart. “Enough is enough. We have to do something and draw a line somewhere. Otherwise, no one will feel safe in the growing environmental pollution,” he said.

Bhattacharjee said he has already held discussions with officials of the environment and transport departments to evolve a clear-cut strategy to contain all kinds of pollution. “If necessary, we will enact a new law to curb auto emission. We will make some specific announcement in this regard very soon,” he said.

He also came down heavily on the indiscriminate felling of trees in the city by different agencies and underscored the need for a stronger legislation to prevent it.

“We admit there is sometimes a need to cut down trees to undertake development work. But no one should forget that it is also mandatory to plant at least three trees for felling one. Many agencies, including some government ones, often do not follow the rules,” he said.

The chief minister also expressed his displeasure over the existing mode of solid waste management in Calcutta as well as the district towns, describing the system as “unscientific”.

Commenting on the controversy over a new bill on preservation of water-bodies, Bhattacharjee said it is the government’s policy “not to allow filling up even a single inch of the wetlands.”

“I know that some promoters have been filling up the wetlands but we shall not allow that to happen,” Bhattacharjee said.

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