Refusing to extend the six-month time limit for implementing its ban on polluting auto-rickshaws,the Calcutta High Court on Friday pulled up the West Bengal Government for failing to get such vehicles off the roads within the stipulated period.
On Friday,West Bengal Advocate General Bolai Roy placed an action taken report (ATR) before the Division Bench of Chief Justice S S Nijjar and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and appealed for an extension of the time limit. After going through the report,the Bench wanted to know what the Government had done to rehabilitate auto drivers and to improve the infrastructure for LPG refuelling.
Roy said the state had prepared a rehabilitation scheme to convert existing two-stroke autos into LPG along with arranging bank loans for the same. Auto manufacturing companies have promised to supply about 3,000 improved vehicles in a month. As many as 11,998 auto owners have showed interest to adopt the scheme, Roy said,adding that at least six to seven months would be required to convert the existing 34,000 autos.
Unimpressed,the Bench said,The state Government should have been proactive and sincere to implement the courts order passed on July 18,2008. The Government should have prepared a plan to convert the auto to LPG mode through phases. It also asked the Government not to seize autos which had valid license until further orders.
Refusing to extend the time limit till July 31,the Bench directed the Government to publish its rehabilitation scheme in newspapers and broadcast it on TV and radio channels. It said the extension of the time limit would be considered after going through the ATR.
Earlier,Roy argued that Government had cancelled the registration of two-stroke autos after December 31. However,this was followed by as many as 24 incidents of violence,he said,adding that buses belonging to public transport services were set on fire and police posts attacked. But the Bench countered by saying that law and order is a state affair. It should be maintained by the state Government.
After Roy said the Government had tried to persuade oil companies to set up LPG fuelling centres in the city,the court asked the oil companies to appear in the next hearing.
The courts intervention had come following an order issued by the West Bengal Environment Department on July 17,2008 announcing that two-stroke autos would be banned in the state after December 31,2008. The notification also said that the existing autos would be converted to LPG. The Calcutta High Court had directed that the notification issued by the Environment Department would be treated as a court order.