Queues extending for more than 10 hours, squabbles over waiting time and hundreds of vehicles being checked for emissions — a week after the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, came into force, pollution checking centres in Delhi-NCR have seen a sudden hike in customers.
On Saturday, several pollution checking centres in Delhi’s Kalkaji, Lodhi Road, Karol Bagh, Patparganj and nearby Noida and Gurgaon had hundreds of vehicles waiting in queues to take a test for the “pollution under check” (PUC) certificate.
A senior Delhi transport department official said more than 50,000 PUC certificates were issued Saturday — far more than the roughly 10,000 a day from previous months.
“There is a three-fold increase in the number of vehicles taking the tests at centres, and this is because the penalty amount for violating emission norms has also increased… This is a positive step and it will keep air pollution in check in the city,” the official said.
Under the amended act, penalty for PUC violations has increased to Rs 10,000. The fine used to be Rs 1,000 for first offence and Rs 2,000 for subsequent violations. An attendant at a Kalkaji pollution checking centre said, “People who were not willing to wait even a minute are waiting for hours. A customer demanded to be served first claiming he is a doctor, we told him to come back early tomorrow.”
At a station near Lodhi Road, around 200 vehicles were waiting to be checked. Around 150 would be checked by the end of day, attendants said, citing frequently crashing servers and commotion caused by people jumping the queue.
Puya Lal (60), an autorickshaw driver, was in queue near Lodhi Road since 10 am. “I came yesterday and all slots were filled. I returned today, they tested my rickshaw by 4 pm but told me it failed. I will have to wait four more hours to get it redone.”
A PUC test involves checking for air pollutants emitted by vehicles, such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. The test costs between Rs 60 and Rs 100. The validity of the certificate is one year for BS IV vehicles and three months for others.
Long queues were witnessed at checking centres in Sectors 10 and 98. A staff member at a testing centre in Sector 10 said, “Till last month, we would sit idle in our cabin with a few vehicles coming in. Now there’s no time to eat lunch.”
After closing time, vehicles that are still in queue have to come back the following day to queue again, and there is a first come first served policy. A resident of Sector 93 said the closest checking centre in Sector 105 had long queues Friday and Saturday. “In front of the centre, there were some bike owners who had snatched the machine from the operator and were checking their bike exhausts themselves, without any regard for people waiting in queues,” he said.
Babloo Kumar, a pollution check employee at a petrol station near IFFCO Chowk Metro station, said, “We used to get 10-15 cars per day; now it’s 40-50. But there is no jam as such, it is quite smooth.” Anil Kumar, who works at a petrol station nearby, also attested that while the rush was intense for the first two days, it has gone down now.