The district will observe no private vehicle day by rotation in every block from January, district magiatrate Saumitra Mohan said on Tuesday.
He said that on the stipulated date every person would have to use public vehicle except in an emergency. The step has been taken to curb pollution.
“We will not allow the running of private vehicles unless it is an emergency. It would be compulsory, not voluntary.” On a separate day every month, any one of the 31 blocks of the district would have a private vehicle-free day, he said.
Asked what he meant by emergency, he said medical requirements would be exempt. Unlike in Delhi and Gurgaon, where driving four-wheelers are stopped on certain days, the Burdwan vehicle rule would also include two-wheelers such as scooters and motorcycles.
The district magistrate’s decision has come after a drive to voluntarily shun private transport in the district got a mixed response on December 15.
A high court lawyer said the stricture would infringe on the fundamental right to free movement. Some residents questioned why the district administration had planned to enforce a no-private vehicle day without boosting public transport on the road, plans for which have not been drawn up.
Anindya Sunder Das, an advocate who practises in Calcutta High Court, said the move of not allowing people to use their private two-wheelers and cars would go against fundamental rights.
“The district administration’s decision will curb the fundamental right to free movement as mentioned under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. The decision may be challenged in a court of law. To ride a vehicle means freedom of movement. Through this decision, the administration will curb the right to move,” he said.
Mohan clarified that the district administration would speak to block development officers (BDO) and panchayat representatives. “We will also take the opinion from people’s representatives. The entire block will not be covered. We will choose some roads through consultation and implement the no-vehicle day. The roads are yet to be finalised,” he said.
An official of the regional transport office in Burdwan said: “At the meeting in the blocks, there will be panchayat pradhans or members, in the urban areas local municipality chairpersons or councillors will attend the meetings. We will take suggestions from people’s representatives and select the roads.”
In Burdwan district, around 4,000 private buses connecting towns and villages run daily apart from around 8,000 autorickshaws and 1,500 minibuses that zip around in Asansol and Durgapur.
There is no government bus in the district other than the Calcutta-Durgapur-Asansol buses of the South Bengal State Transport Corporation (SBSTC).