NGT orders to phase out vehicles older than 15 yrs in West Bengal
The tribunal stated that the state government must ensure that public vehicles below BS-IV (Bharat Stage) are phased out over the next six months.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered that all vehicles older than 15 years be phased out in West Bengal within the next six months.
In its order, the tribunal stated that the state government must ensure that public vehicles below BS-IV (Bharat Stage) are phased out over the next six months, with only BS-IV vehicles operating after that in the state, including Kolkata and Howrah.
The order issued by the NGT's eastern bench in Kolkata read that with the advent of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses and electric buses, a shift to cleaner and greener technology may be made while phasing out the older vehicles. The bench includes judicial member Justice B Amit Sthalekar and expert member Saibal Dasgupta.
Construction activities, municipal solid waste burning, vehicular pollution, road dust, and emissions from hot-mix plants and stone crushers are Kolkata and Howrah's major sources of pollution.
A senior official of the state pollution control board stated that approximately 25 per cent of the PM2.5 pollution (ultrafine particles 30 times finer than the thickness of human hair that can penetrate deep inside the lungs if inhaled) and 10 per cent of the PM10 pollution (coarser particles that can make you sick) comes from polluting vehicles in Kolkata.
"This is a historical order. But this is only the beginning, and the work must continue. There are approximately 10 million such old vehicles on the road in the state, and it is possible that all of them will not be phased out within the six-month time frame. We are concerned about this and will pursue it more aggressively," said Subhas Datta, a green activist who petitioned the NGT in 2021.
According to government estimates, there were 219,137 commercial vehicles and 1,820,382 private vehicles that were more than 15 years old in Kolkata in 2019. Six hundred ninety-seven thousand six hundred thirty-five commercial vehicles and 6,501,179 private vehicles must be phased out across the state.
The West Bengal Pollution Control Board had already contracted CSIR-NEERI to conduct a source apportionment study and emission inventory development in the twin cities of Kolkata and Howrah.
In its affidavit to the tribunal, the state government stated that several measures had been implemented to reduce 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, and water sprinklers and water canons, among other things, are being used to control road dust.
"In Kolkata, we want to launch more than 1200 electric buses. There are already 80 such buses operating in the city," said a senior official with the state transportation department.