The West Bengal Pollution Control Board has decided to provide an incentive of Rs 1 lakh for 15 years or older commercial vehicle that is scrapped and replaced by a new one.
“From our side (for) first 1,000 vehicles, we are ready to give Rs 1 lakh each,” said PCB member secretary Rajesh Kumar during a virtual meeting organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce on Saturday. Kumar told Metro later that they have kept the money in the budget.
PCB chairman Kalyan Rudra clarified to Metro that the proposal seeking support came to the board from the state transport department and the money was planned to be used to facilitate switching over to either new vehicles or conversion to environment-friendly gas-powered ones.
“Though initially the money was earmarked for facilitating switch over of 15 years old taxis; but it may be used for other commercial vehicles as well,” added Rudra.
The PCB proposal came in the wake of the recently finalised state-level action plan to combat air pollution, which has recommended scrapping of 15-year-old commercial vehicles in critically polluted cities in the state, including Calcutta.
Recently, the state environment department has finalised an action plan to combat air pollution that recommends scrapping of 15-year-old commercial vehicles from all “non attainment cities” — cities which have failed to comply with the national air pollution norms — those include Calcutta, Howrah, Barrackpore, Asansol, Durgapur, Raniganj and Haldia.
Subsequently, the plan has been vetted by the Central pollution control board ; and will be submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on January 18.
Incidentally, 15-year-old commercial vehicles have been banned from the Calcutta metropolitan area (CMA) in 2008 through a Calcutta High Court order that includes cities of Calcutta, Howrah and Barrackpore.
“It’s like putting new wine in old bottle. This order was passed for the entire CMA more than 12 years back. But it has hardly been implemented beyond CMC (Calcutta Municipal Corporation). Even in CMC, the scrapping rate of 15-year-old commercial vehicles has gradually dwindled over the years; as the air pollution surged,” complained environmentalist Subhas Datta, on the basis of whose petition the high court passed the order.
The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has recently found that close to one-fourth of most toxic PM 2.5 pollutants in Calcutta’s air, is caused by vehicles.
Commercial vehicles have been found to be responsible for four-fifth of the total PM 2.5 pollution generated by vehicular sector, both in both Calcutta and Howrah.
PM2.5 is considered the most toxic form of pollutant as it can penetrate deep into the recipient’s lungs and trigger several diseases, including cancer.