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Clean air drive takes off from steel city

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By A.S.R.P. MUKESH
  • Published 20.05.12
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Ranchi, May 19: The state crackdown on polluting vehicles will begin from Jamshedpur.

The regional transport authority (RTA) has made it mandatory for auto-rickshaws and other commercial vehicles plying within the steel city, which has two gas filling stations, to use LPG as fuel from June 1, failing which they would be denied road permits.

RTA secretary Uday Pratap Singh said the decision was taken at a high-level meeting last week and a directive to this effect was conveyed to the district transport office in Jamshedpur on Monday.

“Permits issued to big commercial vehicles usually remain valid for four months after which they have to get it renewed. However, from June the permits will be issued only if the vehicles meet all pollution guidelines, which includes having gas kits,” he said, adding a shift to LPG from petrol and diesel would automatically lower pollution levels.

These norms, Singh said, would also be applicable to private vehicles of all kinds if they were used as pool cars, school vans or taxis.

The RTA directive was issued days before the Jharkhand High Court asked the state government to ensure that ageing auto-rickshaws and commercial vehicles were banned from the roads of Ranchi that was reeling under severe air pollution.

Although the state capital is one of the most polluted cities of Jharkhand, thanks to fume-belching diesel autos and other commercial vehicles, the transport authorities decided to begin the drive from Jamshedpur as it already had two LPG filling stations.

“One of the gas stations is located at Telco, while the other is at Dimna Chowk. There is no LPG filling station in Ranchi although the district administration is in the process of setting up four or five, which may take over six-seven months,” Singh said.

He, however, clarified that similar directives would be issued in Ranchi once LPG filling stations were commissioned.

Dhanbad and Bokaro, too, have a gas station each, but Singh said that these districts did not come under their ambit. “The eight districts under RTA are East Singhbhum, West Singhbum, Ranchi, Lohardaga, Gumla, Simdega, Khunti and Seraikela-Kharsawan,” he said.

On the high court directive, the RTA secretary said they had stopped issuing new permits to autos till the old ones were phased out in Ranchi.

The court, while hearing a PIL filed by Rajneeh Mishra for curbing pollution levels in the capital, directed the government to crack down on auto-rickshaws that were more than 10 years old and buses, trucks, vans and taxis, more than 15 years old.

The court said that this measure, part of several recommendations made by an experts’ committee, were to be implemented by July 31.