The eastern zone branch of the National Green Tribunal has issued an order for phasing out all vehicles that are older than 15 years, within six months.
The direction to scrap the vehicles across 32 cities in West Bengal, including Kolkata and Howrah, has triggered apprehensions among the city’s public transport operators who claimed the implementation could wipe off the fleet of private buses and bring existential crisis to the industry.
According to some of the bus operators, despite the facility of other modes of transport, a large population in Kolkata and other cities of West Bengal still commutes in such buses. Phasing out of all private and minibuses within this time frame could lead to roads getting empty in Kolkata. The step would not only be felt in Kolkata but even in other cities of the state, where a large number of commuters depend on buses run by private operators.
According to the general secretary of Joint Council of Bus Syndicates, Tapan Banerjee, a large number of private buses in the state have turned non-performing asset (NPA) and obtaining a loan would be a challenge for the operators amid the ongoing financial crisis that the bus owners are facing following the outbreak of the pandemic. “The vehicles are to be phased out for reducing pollution,” said the general secretary of Joint Council of Bus Syndicates. “Instead of replacing the vehicle, why not convert it into CNG, which is environment-friendly. We had given the proposal to the state government to which the state transport minister had also given his nod. We would request the NGT to reconsider the direction,” he added.
The Joint Council of Bus Syndicates is now considering taking the legal path on the matter.