The transport department has issued what it claims is a final warning to oil companies and petrol pumps across the state to set up pollution testing centres latest by December 1 or else face cancellation of their trade licences.
“The department is acting as per the Supreme Court’s order issued in the MC Mehta vs Union of India case in August last year. More than a year has passed but oil companies and petrol pump owners are buying time,” said a senior transport official, adding that they would soon convene a meeting of oil company officials to ensure that PUC certification centres were opened at all petrol pumps by the end of the year.
“We have to submit a compliance report before the Supreme Court,” he claimed when pointed out that Jharkhand Petroleum Dealers’ Association had move court against the transport department’s order issued a week ago, saying it was not feasible to set up testing centres at all pumps.
According to Ranchi district transport officer Sanjeev Kumar, there are 1,200 petrol pumps and 105 PUC testing centres in the state. In Ranchi, there are 82 petrol pumps and 28 PUC centres.
“For Ranchi, I issued the notice around one week back. There are a handful of petrol pumps equipped with PUC testing equipment in Ranchi. But as per the SC order every petrol pump must have PUC testing units,” he said.
Joint secretary of the dealers’ association Prashant Kumar alleged the state transport department’s interpretation of the SC order was incorrect. “State governments must take decisions on measures to control air pollution in consultation with stakeholders. PUC at every patrol pump is not feasible,” he said.
In its petition, the association has alleged that before the latest order was issued, a couple of petrol pumps in Ranchi had applied for PUC licences. “Their applications are still pending,” said South Chhotanagpur Petroleum Dealers’ Association joint secretary Niraj Bhattacharya.
Prashant Kumar claimed that as per rules only MTech degree holders could be issued a licence to run a PUC testing centre.
“How many of us are MTech degree holders? PUC equipment and accessories cost around Rs 4 lakh. We will have to hire a minimum of two staffers that will be an extra burden for us, besides maintenance costs,” he said.
But joint transport commissioner Shekhar Jamuar denied the association’s claims, saying it was trying to create confusion over the Supreme Court order. “Oil companies have to ensure PUC units at petrol pumps. Either the company or the dealer can do so. If the order is not followed the trade licence will be cancelled,” he said.
Jamuar also rejected the association’s claim about MTech criteria. “The only condition is that the person manning the PUC unit must hold a technical degree,” he clarified.