Srinagar: The High court has sought government response on the measures suggested by the State Pollution Control Board to tackle air pollution in Srinagar city.
After informing the court that the pollution levels were rising mostly due to vehicular effluents, the SPCB suggested a number of measures to deal with the problem.
The division bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and B S Walia then directed State’s Chief Secretary to consider the issue and submit report by or before the next date of hearing in Public Interest Litigation on May 15.
In a compliance report to the court’s previous direction, member secretary SPCB stated that ambient air quality monitoring stations, for monitoring the levels of pollution, have been set up at different locations in the state. “The results have shown a gradual rising trend in the air pollution of the City which is mostly attributable to vehicular position and the tackling of vehicular pollution attains importance on account of peculiar topography and fragile ecosystem of the State,” the report said.
It also detailed out that a fully loaded vehicle especially commercial vehicles, be that a passenger or goods carrier, moving at a low speed due to traffic congestion or bad or poor road infrastructure was bound to cause or generate high vehicular emissions.
The SPCB has made certain suggestions to deal with the problems and include the construction of circular, ring road round the city; maintenance, increasing of road infrastructure in the city, restriction of entry of goods carriers in the city during peak hours; imposition or enforcement of ban on worn and unfit vehicles; better regulation of traffic; check on adulteration of fuel; ensuring the fitness of on-road vehicles; exploring the possibility of alternative mode of transport and ensuring proper function of pollution checking centres so that only vehicles conforming to the emission norms are issued pollution under control certificates and allowed to ply on roads.
Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganie submitted that the Inspector General of Police (Traffic) J&K, has also suggested certain measures in his compliance report.
The IGP has also stated that traffic police does not allow any vehicle to ply on road which has attained the age of 25-years as also commercial vehicles aged between 15 to 25 years and are without fitness certificate.
Meanwhile, transport Commissioner J&K in his compliance report stated that there is ban on 25-year-old vehicles while the fitness test of passenger or commercial vehicles aged between 15 to 25 years has been made compulsory after every six months.
The officer stated that 1491 TATA-407 vehicles were introduced in the state in 1988 and all of them have been registered till 2005. Out of the 1491 vehicles, 666 have already been condemned upto December 2016, he said.
“The remaining vehicles shall be taken off the road once they reach the 25 years age,” he said. Besides giving out the details on the condemnation of the vehicles, the Transport Commissioner also stated that they have directed the RTO Kashmir to submit a comprehensive report, explaining as to how the TATA 407 mini buses are plying in Kashmir Valley in violation of Motor Vehicle Act.
He also stated that every passenger, commercial vehicle has to undergo a fitness test conducted by the Board of Inspection (MVD), once in a year. However, presently the fitness of such type of vehicles aged between 15 to 25 years is done twice a year, he said.
But the high court observed that nothing has been stated about the response of the RTO Kashmir regarding such fitness test of the vehicles in the range of 15 to 20 years.
“Let a fresh report be submitted by the Transport Commissioner reflecting very specifically the action taken by the RTO Kashmir pursuant to the directions issued by this court and the Transport Commissioner to him,” he added.