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HC ban on old vehicles in tatters

The metropolitan area comprises Calcutta and the areas under 40 adjacent civic bodies

Jayanta Basu Calcutta Published 16.07.19, 10:37 PM
Calcutta High Court

Calcutta High Court File picture

More than two lakh commercial vehicles aged 15 years or older are plying in the Calcutta Metropolitan Area a decade after the high court banned them, the Union road transport and highways ministry submitted in the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday.

The metropolitan area comprises Calcutta and the areas under 40 adjacent civic bodies.


The ministry’s affidavit states 2,19,137 commercial vehicles more than 15 years old are plying in the metropolitan area.

According to the affidavit, as many as 60,480 vehicles still plying despite being more than 15 years old are registered with the Alipore regional transport office (RTO). The count for the public vehicles department and the Barrackpore RTO are 57,511 and 46,166, respectively.

The high court had in July 2018, following a petition by environment activist Subhas Datta, ordered a blanket ban on commercial vehicles aged 15 years or older in the Calcutta Metropolitan Area. Between then and October 2018, 1,13,890 vehicles had been scrapped for crossing the age limit.

“We have taken data from the National Informatics Centre to prepare the affidavit,” Durkat R. Luikang, an under-secretary in the ministry of road transport and highways, told The Telegraph on Tuesday.

The affidavit was submitted to the green tribunal by Luikang.

“This is a blatant violation of the court order and the state must take action to rectify the fault,” said a lawyer representing the ministry.

Asked about the affidavit, an official in the transport department said: “We cannot make any comment before going through it.”

A senior environment department official shifted the onus on the transport department and the police.

The high court order of July 2008, which was based on a directive of the environment department, was passed following reports that diesel-powered old commercial vehicles were a major source of toxic fume in the city.

Environmentalists allege that the high court order is being violated with impunity with wilful negligence of the state government.

“A thorough investigation is called for if the Union ministry’s figures are correct. This is contempt of court,” said environment activist Datta.

“Such things cannot happen without willful negligence of the state government, particularly the transport department and the police,” said Biswajit Mukherjee, former chief law officer of the environment department.

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