Autos rule the road as traffic wing, DTO look the other way | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Autos rule the road as traffic wing, DTO look the other way

Massive road infrastructure reduces to nothing when rows of vehicles come to a screeching halt due to obstruction caused by auto-rickshaws. The result being: non-stop honking, overtaking from wrong side and brawls between commuters.

punjab Updated: Jun 26, 2014 11:34 IST
Anshu Seth

Massive road infrastructure reduces to nothing when rows of vehicles come to a screeching halt due to obstruction caused by auto-rickshaws. The result being: non-stop honking, overtaking from wrong side and brawls between commuters.

This is an everyday scene at all main roads of city, including Ferozepur Road, Gill flyover to Bharat Nagar Chowk, railway station, Dugri Dhandra Road, Jalandhar bypass and Samrala bypass.

The last one decade has seen a constant increase in number of auto-rickshaws in the city, most shocking being the “outdated autos”, which after being bought in metropolitan cities, have paved their way into Ludhiana.

The authorities, including district transport officer and the traffic wing of the police commissionerate, have slept over the issue for reasons best known to them.

* Adulterated fuel used by auto-rickshaws

Out of over 45,000 auto-rickshaws running in Ludhiana, not more than 12,000 are registered. Many auto-rickshaws do not have pollution under control (PUC) certificates and had illegally modified bodies.

Some of the autos after being disposed of in other big cities have been brought to Ludhiana and do not even have number plates. All this is happening right under the nose of the office of DTO and Ludhiana police commissionerate.

A large number of auto-rickshaws are even mixing kerosene with the fuel that amounts to emancipation of carbon monoxide (CO), nitric oxides (NOx), and sulfur dioxide (SO2), which are hazardous for human health.

Having been rated as the world's fourth most polluted city by WHO in terms of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) in 2011, Ludhiana also came under the scanner of the union ministry of environment in 2013 as it had imposed a ban on setting up of big industries in Ludhiana.

Going by the Comprehensive Environment Pollution Index (CEPI) of 75.72, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has rated Ludhiana as sixth most polluted city in the country.

Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) in its reply to the CPCB had categorically mentioned the pollution caused by auto-rickshaws as a major contributor to the air pollution level in the city.

* Traffic cops turn blind eye to violations

For city residents, parking vehicles in no parking zones is an offence and the vehicles are even towed away. But when it comes to auto-rickshaws, the same cops turn a blind eye and let them get away with all violations.

Every day dozens of autos make a queue on the flyover outside the Shaheed Sukhdev Thapar Interstate Bus Terminal, thereby encroaching upon almost half of the road, which consequently results in bottlenecks.

What surprises the most is the attitude of the traffic wing of the police commissionerate as minimum of 4-5 cops are on duty on both sides of the flyover. But none bothers to challan or question the auto-rickshaw drivers for traffic violation.

* State govt sitting on its hands

Following a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Lt Col Naresh Ghai (retd) of Ludhiana and others in Punjab and Haryana high court in 2008, so as to install Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations at Ludhiana and Jalandhar for providing CNG to auto-rickshaws and buses, the court had directed the respective municipal corporations to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) in 2012 and the needful had been done.

However, the union ministry of petroleum objected to the MoU saying that they had invited bidders for laying spur pipes to cater to domestic and commercial sector, as a result the matter is hanging fire.

On the other hand, the state government has done nothing to convert the auto-rickshaws to CNG, which was planned more than two years ago.

* Official speaks

We challan and also impound illegally plying auto-rickshaw on the city roads.
The police department is taking the matter very seriously.
Harjit Singh, assistant commissioner of police (ACP) traffic.