January 11, 2009

Court to monitor autorickshaw ban in West Bengal

Kolkata, Jan 9 : The Calcutta High Court Friday directed the West Bengal government to file a progress report on how it was implementing the ban on two-stroke autorickshaws in the city.A two-member division bench of the high court, comprising Chief Justice S.S Nijjar and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh, ordered the state government to submit a report every 15 days, which would be scrutinised from time to time.

It said the state government’s request for extension of time till July 31, 2009 will be considered in the next hearing. The division bench directed that till further orders no auto rickshaw with valid document and registration would be seized. Earlier, the high court issued an order July last year to ban commercial vehicles registered before Jan 1, 1993, from Kolkata and its outskirts.
It said that all auto-rickshaws, irrespective of their date of registration, will have to convert to either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The order was to be implemented by Dec 31, 2008, in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area, which includes parts of North and South 24-Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly.

The court issued the order after the state environment department had placed before the high court a notification (in July 2008) for freeing the city of severe automobile pollution. It is estimated that around 80,000 auto-rickshaws, 24,000 taxis and over 8,000 buses and mini-buses would be affected by the implementation of the court order.

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