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July 31 HC stinker to ban old autos

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 16.05.12
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Ranchi, May 15: Jharkhand High Court has asked the state government to ensure that ageing auto-rickshaws and commercial vehicles be banned from the roads of Ranchi that is reeling under severe air pollution.

A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Prakash Tatia and Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh, while hearing a PIL filed by Rajneeh Mishra for curbing pollution levels in the capital, directed the government to crack down on autos 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.

The nine-member committee, set up at the intervention of the court, has noted that 24-hour readings of average respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) in various parts of the capital ranged between 150 and 283 units which was way above permissible limits of 100 RSPM.

The committee also noted that more than private vehicles, commercial vehicles contributed more to the city’s pollution. Ranchi has about 6,000 auto-rickshaws plying daily. Of these, only about 2,300 had valid permits, which means that more than half the autos on the streets are illegal.

SP (traffic) R.K. Prasad, a member of the committee, suggested that the autos with permits be painted with a special colour for proper identification and be asked to display a copy of the permit on their windscreens.

The committee recommended that the transport department along with regional transport authority (RTA) and urban development department would have to find a way out to invite private bus operators to run low-floor city buses to ease the pressure on commuters after the old vehicles were pulled out of the roads.

The committee also held discussions with petroleum companies to explore the possibilities of introducing CNG. Though petroleum companies expressed their inability to provide CNG facilities immediately, they, however, suggested LPG as an alternative fuel to lower pollution levels.

Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum also promised to set up LPG filling stations by November.

The experts’ committee comprised transport department secretary K.K. Khandelwal, RTA divisional commissioner Surendra Singh, RTA secretary Uday Pratap, additional advocate-general Ajit Kumar, senior advocate Sohail Anwar, advocate Delip Jerath, deputy commissioner K.K. Soan, Ranchi Municipal Corporation CEO V.K. Choubey and SP Prasad.

The petitioner, Rajneesh Mishra, filed the PIL, citing alarming levels of pollution in the capital. “Air and noise pollution levels in the capital are above the normal range and will affect the residents adversely,” he alleged.