Saturday, August 05, 2017

No check on pollution by three-wheelers

The Tribune: Ludhiana: Saturday, August 05, 2017.
Despite the fact that Ludhiana is the most polluted city in the state, possibly in the entire Northern region, diesel-run three-wheelers, one of the worst polluting mass transport means, are having a free run in the city.
Thanks to the poor or rather nil enforcement of traffic rules and pollution norms by the Transport Department and the city traffic police. In the absence of a robust and adequate alternative public transport system, it seems three-wheelers have become an evil in the industrial hub of the state.
Surprisingly, information provided by the Commissioner of Police under the Right to Information Act reveals that the city traffic police challaned only 556 auto-rickshaws for plying without permits and 630 for operating without pollution check certificate during the past seven months.
This despite the fact that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had imposed a ban on issuing new permits to diesel-run auto-rickshaws in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar in July 2009.
Besides, the issue of massive air pollution caused by diesel-run motor vehicles, including three-wheelers and other means of public transport in Ludhiana and Amritsar, is already pending before the National Green Tribunal.
Responding to information sought under the RTI Act by Rohit Sabharwal, president of the Council of RTI Activists, the police had further intimated that during the past seven and a half months, challans were issued to 79 buses for use of pressure horns, besides 13 buses and 62 commercial transport vehicles for overloading.
That the traffic police found fault only with 1,100 odd three-wheelers during the past seven and a half months when more than 40,000 such vehicles, most of them diesel operated, were plying on city roads is in itself ridiculous if not shocking.
The fact that the number of diesel-operated auto-rickshaws had more than doubled since 2009 when the High Court imposed a ban on the issue of new permits proved the total lack of enforcement of rules by the traffic police.
Although nobody is prepared to go on record, it is a known fact that giving protection to illegally run three-wheelers in the city has become a lucrative business for certain self-styled and opportunistic political leaders as well as some policemen, some of whom are said to be operating fleet of such vehicles.
“Then almost without failing, unions formed by three-wheeler operators at different places are headed by politically connected persons, who raise a lot of hue and cry, whenever the police or the Transport Department launch a crackdown on illegal auto-rickshaws,” said a police official requesting anonymity.