Even as pollution levels remain higher than permissible limits in Gurgaon for the last two months, the pollution under-control certificate (PUC) centres put forward a lackadaisical attitude before issuing a certificate to vehicles.
Carbon monoxide level in the city is recorded more than seven times higher against the prescribed limit of 4 mg/m³ and the particulate matter, at 2.5, has remained more than the permissible limit for the last two months, owing to vehicular pollution and rampant construction activities.
During a ground reality check by HT, it was noticed that getting a PUC in Gurgaon is not difficult at all. Vehicles that emit dark smoke easily ply on roads without objections from authorities. Such vehicles were issued PUCs as well.
Random visits to various PUC centres provided a clear picture regarding how unfit vehicles get permission, not rejection.
Around 300 PUC centres are registered with the pollution department, whereas the actual figures are much higher, according to civic agencies. Out of these, some of the centres were found to be operating with just a computer and a printer, without equipment required for checking pollution levels of vehicles.
A visit to a PUC centre on Golf Course road, near the Mega Mall, showed an absence of attendants to check pollution levels of any vehicle.
Most of the attendants are unfit to handle the equipment as they have no knowledge about the parameters. An attendant at a PUC centre near IFFCO Chowk, while checking the pollution level of a vehicle, said that it takes hardly two minutes to issue a certificate for a vehicle. When quizzed about the level of pollution in the particular vehicle, he said he knew nothing about it.
“We take picture of the registration number plate and insert a tube into the silencer to take readings. The owner of the vehicle is asked to start the engine, and if the readings are under permissible limit, we issue the PUC,” said Sunil Kumar, a PUC centre attendant at Sector 44.
Another attendant agreed that PUCs are issued to vehicles that have readings above the permissible limit as well. “It is my job to issue PUC. We do not give any rejection note,” said an attendant, who did not want to be named.
When asked if he can issue PUC to a vehicle that is not even physically present, he answered in the affirmative.
“We need a picture of the number plate and a certificate can be issued,” said a booth attendant at Atul Kataria Chowk.
Senior officials at Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) said that though some of the centres had no equipment to check vehicular emissions, they continue to issue fake PUCs. “We have raised this issue with the Roads and Transport Authority and they will take action against the violators,” said Bhupender Singh, regional officer, HSPCB.
However, RTA Trilok Chand declined to comment on the issue.
HT found irregularities in the rates as well. According to the Haryana Government, the owner of two-wheeler has to pay a fee of Rs 50, while, for vehicles of three and four-wheelers are supposed to pay Rs 80 for Petrol, CNG or LPG. Diesel vehicles are required to pay Rs 100 for the certificate.
However, at a centre at Rajeev Chowk, a petrol car was charged R 100 for the PUC. Up on enquiry, the booth attendant said he was charging according to the “norms”. He is not alone, a number of centres charge more than the prescribed norms as they know that the vehicles are not fit to get a certificate.