West Bengal Govt. authorities continue impounding of old vehicles in Kolkata

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Kolkata, Aug.2 (ANI): West Bengal Government authorities in Kolkata city continued impounding old vehicles on the second day on Sunday in compliance with the Calcutta High Court directive banning vehicles that have been in use for over 15 years.

On Friday (July 31), the Supreme Court had refused to stay the Calcutta High Court order, which banned plying of old vehicles from August 1, 2009 here.

A large number of security forces were deployed on the streets to seize the vehicles. Old auto rickshaws are being seized from the streets by cranes.

"As per the honourable High court order...that this type of vehicle will not ply on the road from August 1.... that is why we are on the road we are checking the vehicles. If we find any violation of the order of the honourable High Court, we are taking action," said Sunil Kumar De, Deputy Commissioner of Traffic, Kolkata.

Private transporters are unhappy with the order, as they blame the State Government for not having worked out any alternative for them.

"The government's decision is good, but they should have given taxi drivers some alternative. The government has taken a good decision, but they should have considered about us. We are poor people whose daily earnings depend on taxis," said Sanjay Mandal, a taxi driver.

Most of the commuters have complained of inconveniences due to ban.

"Almost 70 to 80 percent of the vehicles have been stopped and because of that we can't get buses, even if we do, they are overcrowded. We get late for school, colleges or tuitions," said Ashish Kumar, a local resident.

Calcutta High Court order directed the phasing out of diesel-powered 15-year-old commercial vehicles from the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Area (KMDA) zone.

The High Court banned 15-year-old vehicles as they don't have the requisite devices to check pollution.

In July 2008, the Calcutta High Court had set March 31, 2009, as deadline for old commercial vehicles (Pre-1993). The last date was extended till July 31, following a Government plea the court made it clear that the Government, which had done little to meet the phase out deadline, -will not be given any further extension.

Kolkata is one of the most polluted cities in the country and smoke from vehicles is a major contributor to the same.

The Calcutta High Court's ruling is aimed at bringing down the pollution level in the city. By Ajitha Menon (ANI)

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