All that looks green may not be green

KOLKATA, 13 SEPT: While the Public Vehicles Department and the state transport department continue haggling over the numbers of two-stroke autos scrapped in almost two years after the Calcutta High Court verdict, old but repainted autos continue to rule the roads in city and suburbs.
Mr Sumantra Chowdhury, state transport secretary, said that till August 2010, more than 17,000 two-stroke autos have been scrapped. About 20,000 registered autos were phased out after Calcutta High Court banned two-stroke autos from plying in the Kolkata Municipal Area. “More are in the process of releasing subsidy,” he added.
However, Mr Ujjal Sengupta, PVD secretary, said that a total of 6,500 LPG-run autos are now running, which means that an equal number of two-stroke autos have been scrapped.
“Several applications had mistakes and so many autos could not be replaced,” he said.
Such discrepancies in the numbers quoted by the transport department and the public vehicles department and a visit to one of the auto scrap yards in Entally proves that no one can be sure exactly how many autos have actually been scrapped. There is also the possibility that such autos are still plying on the city roads and the suburbs.
Mr Dipak Chakraborty, chief scientist, West Bengal Pollution Control Board, said: “All that appears green is hardly so. Our calculations show that after such vehicles are phased out, the reduction in air-pollution should have been much more than it is now.” If the pollution level remains the way it is then the motive behind the HC order has completely been ignored,” he added.
When asked that many “newly painted” autos seen in the city are two-stroke, Mr Ujjal Sengupta said that the Regional Transport Offices have the responsibility of inspecting such autos in their area. “No such case has been found in the city. However, such autos are seen plying in Jadavpur and Behala region. It is not in our jurisdiction,” he added. When asked the same question, Mr Sumantra Chowdhury said: “Such autos could be seen in the suburbs. Our concern is only to check them if they run in the city.”
Mr Subhas Dutta, environmental activist, said that the state departments are completely oblivious of the situation and it is a very sorry state of affair. Between what transport department and PVD claims, several autos are flouting the norms. “The scrap is back on the roads again and the city has become a gas chamber. It is a total miscarriage of justice,” he added.

Soma Basu

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