Vehicles older than 15 yrs to be phased out in West Bengal within 6 months: NGT
The major sources of pollution in Kolkata and Howrah are construction activities, burning of municipal solid wastes, vehicular pollution, road dust and emission from hot-mix plants
All vehicles older than 15 years in West Bengal will have to be phased out within the next six months, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered on Tuesday.
The tribunal in its order said that the state government must ensure that the public transport vehicles below BS-IV (Bharat Stage) are phased out in the next six months so that only BS-VI vehicles ply after that in the state including Kolkata and Howrah.
“While phasing out the old vehicles, a move towards use of cleaner and greener technology with the introduction of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses and electric buses may be expedited,” stated the order passed by the NGT’s eastern bench in Kolkata comprising Justice B Amit Sthalekar, judicial member and Saibal Dasgupta, expert member.
The major sources of pollution in Kolkata and Howrah are construction activities, burning of municipal solid wastes, vehicular pollution, road dust and emission from hot-mix plants and stone crushers.
“Around 25% of the PM2.5 pollution (ultrafine particles that are 30 times finer than the thickness of human hair and can penetrate deep inside lungs if inhaled) and 10% of the PM10 pollution (coarser particles that can make you sick) comes from polluting vehicles in Kolkata,” said a senior official of the state pollution control board.
“It’s a historic order. But this is just the beginning and work has to take off from here. There are around 10million such old vehicles plying in the state and it may not be possible to phase out all of them within the six-month time frame. We are concerned about this and be pursuing this matter more actively,” said Subhas Datta, green activist who filed the petition in the NGT in 2021.
According to government estimates in 2019, there were 219,137 commercial vehicles and 1,820,382 private vehicles in Kolkata that were more than 15 years old. Across the state, there were 697,635 commercial vehicles and 6,501,179 private vehicles that need to be phased out.
The West Bengal Pollution Control Board had already engaged CSIR-NEERI to carry out a source apportionment study and development of emission inventory in the twin cities of Kolkata and Howrah.
The state government in its affidavit in the tribunal said that a series of measures have been taken up to bring down pollution in Kolkata and Howrah. While a few hundred old vehicles have been phased out in Kolkata and its outskirts, electric and CNG buses are being introduced, water sprinklers and water-canons are being used to control road dust among others.
“We would be introducing more than 1200 electric buses in Kolkata. Already 80 such buses are plying in the city,” said a senior official of the state transport department.