January 3, 2009

West Bengal to seek time to phase out old autorickshaws

Kolkata : The West Bengal government said it would move the Calcutta High Court to seek more time to phase out old autorickshaws with two-stroke engines from the city roads.”We have decided to move the Calcutta High Court Monday and will ask for some more time. We need additional three months time to phase out old two-stroke autorickshaws and implement the directive in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA) area,” state Transport Minister Subhas Chakraborty told reporters here.

In an order issued in July, the high court had banned commercial vehicles registered before Jan 1, 1993 from Kolkata and its outskirts. The court also directed that all autorickshaws, irrespective of their date of registration, will have to convert to either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

It said the order should be implemented by Dec 31 in the KMA, which includes parts of North and South 24-Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly.“We will request the honourable high court to extend the deadline for implementing the order,” he said.

However, a couple of hours after Chakraborty’s remarks, state Transport Secretary Sumantra Chowdhury said the government would start confiscating two-stroke autorickshaws from Jan 1 in accordance with the court directive. Chowdhury said the government could not move the high court before Jan 1 as it was closed between Dec 25 and Jan 4.

According to estimates, if the government implements the court order, around 80,000 autorickshaws, 24,000 taxis and over 8,000 buses and mini-buses would be affected.

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