Calcutta orders 60,000 ‘bangers’ off road

Author: PA

The Calcutta High Court had given owners of commercial vehicles older than 15
years a one-year deadline that ended yesterday, but several transport groups
have appealed the decision to India’s Supreme Court, which is likely to hear
the matter on Tuesday.

“This is a green-letter day for the city. At last, it is being enforced,” said
Subhas Dutta, an environmental activist whose legal battle against the
city’s polluters brought about the court order last year.

According to government records, more than 60,000 vehicles, including
three-wheeled rickshaws, buses, taxis and trucks will be phased out in the
city of 15 million.

The government is also encouraging new rickshaws and taxis to use compressed
natural gas as fuel. All the phased-out vehicles used petrol or diesel.

The air quality in Calcutta had already improved significantly yesterday,
according to a survey conducted by Saviour and Friend of Environment, a
private environmental group, and commissioned by The Times of India
newspaper.

Readings in several busy areas of the city showed hydrocarbon levels had
dropped by more than 50% per cent while the oxygen content had gone up by
more than 15 per cent, according to SAFE.

While several residents welcomed the change, others worried about the lack of
transport once the working week resumed tomorrow.

Arindam Chaterjee, a software company employee, said he had trouble finding a
taxi today.

“I wonder what the situation will be like on weekdays,” he said.

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