Maken to lead war on pollution

The Hindu, 1 July, 2002


NEW DELHI JUNE 30. Come Monday and the Delhi Transport Minister, Ajay Maken, accompanied by a motivated brigade of school children and a team of mobile pollution checking squad will hit the city roads to personally unleash the campaign of War on Transport Generated Air Pollution (WOTGAP). The massive exercise would involve checking nearly 20-lakh operating vehicles on the Capitalís roads.


With the deadline for getting a Pollution Under Control Certificates (PUCCs) by June 30 coming to an end, the Transport Department in close association with the Traffic Police will launch a crackdown on polluters. Apart from this, the Transport Minister would also be conducting a surprise check at various traffic junctions and crossings to verify if the vehicle owners have complied with the new norms for number plates and obtained their PUC certificates. The help of school children, whose schools open on July 1, has been sought to challan the violators.


Apart from this, the school children would also be distributing pre-stamped post cards among the motorists and people asking them to write down the details of the polluting vehicles on the card and post them. All such violators would be then issued computer generated notices by the Transport Department. The school children would also be carrying banners and placards asking motorists to protect the environment and get their vehicles checked for emission of pollutants every three months.


In addition to this, Mr. Maken would also be paying surprise visits to check the functioning of pollution checking centres. The new drive would begin with scrutiny of private vehicles. As part of the technological upgradation drive, around 100 polluting checking centres have been equipped with digital cameras mounted computerised system with the help of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. If the equipment of the PUCC centres were not found in order, they would also be penalised.


Mr. Maken said the entire month of July would be dedicated to checking emission levels of private vehicles. In fact, two-wheelers are seen as a major source of air pollution as they run on obsolete technology and emit numerous pollutants. During August, school buses would be targeted to ensure that they comply with the pollution emission standards. As for commercial vehicles, they would be screened at the entry points to the Capital. It has been found during random surveys that private vehicle owners are the major culprits.


The Government has also proposed to the Bhure Lal Committee to introduce the concept of one PUCC check every year. While doing so, it has been decided to make the pollution norms more stringent and redefining emission standards.


Mr. Maken said the decision to introduce the computerised PUCCs was taken after it was found that not only the voluntary pollution checks had gone down drastically but also people were employing unfair means to obtain a certificate without actually undergoing the process.


Referring to the advantages of computerised Pollution Under Control Centres, Mr. Maken said under the new system emission values are recorded on the computer without intervention of the operator thereby eliminating the incidence of manipulation of emission values by the operator. The introduction of the photograph of the number plate of the vehicle on which the pollution check is conducted confirms the physical presence of the vehicle at the recorded date and time. In addition to this, it eliminates malpractices currently in vogue with minimum human intervention.


According to official data, there are nearly 34 lakh registered vehicles of various categories in Delhi. Of these two-wheelers account for nearly 22 lakhs and four wheelers nine lakhs. However, it is estimated that not more than 60 per cent of the vehicles are plying on Delhi roads. Even if this figure is taken, then 20 lakh vehicles should undergo 80 lakh pollution checks. But shockingly, only 24 lakh PUC checks were carried till the end of last year.