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State takes steps to check post-festive air pollution surge

Kolkata: The state government on Friday took some key decisions to curb pollution in the city that usually increases soon after the Kali Puja and continues through out the winter months. Chief secretary Rajiva Sinha chaired a meeting at Nabanna where officials from state Transport department, West Bengal Pollution Control Board and Kolkata Municipal Corporation were present.

Sources in the state secretariat said that the Chief Secretary raised the issue of plying of vehicles older than 15 years, which are banned by Calcutta High Court.

The Transport department officials in the meeting informed him that getting these vehicles system-locked was not enough and serious steps must be adopted to stop their plying across the metropolis.

A commercial vehicle attaining the age of 15 years gets system-locked. No permit can be renewed against such vehicle, no Pollution-under-control certificate (PUC) gets issued and no certificate of fitness (CF) is provided to such vehicles.

These three things are most important for a vehicle to be road-worthy, but still a number of such vehicles are operational on road.

"The decision has been taken that the registration number of such vehicle will be made invalid so that it can be spotted easily and immediately condemned," a source in the Transport department said.

KMC was also asked to take necessary measures to phase out all its conservancy vehicles exceeding 15 years of age.

"We have set a deadline of December 31 to phase out all such vehicles and mandated them to strict adherence to pollution norms. KMC's conservancy trucks have been identified as a major source of pollution in the city," a senior KMC official said.

West Bengal Pollution Control Board has been directed to step up its enforcement authority against stocking and selling of illegal fireworks that violate noise and air pollution norms.

The meeting stressed upon special emphasis on decongestion of roads and smoother movement of vehicles and so it has been decided to offer special incentives to create off-street parking facilities and to de-reserve on-road parking at some congested roads.

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