In an attempt to crack down on the fog of smog enveloping Bengaluru, a weeklong drive to test emission levels was launched on last Thursday. On the first day, more than 70 per cent of cargo vehicles failed the pollution test and were heavily penalised. As a precursor to the government’s final decision on banning pollution-emitting vehicles and implement Delhi’s ‘odd-even’ formula, the state government appointed a coordination committee comprising various agencies: Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, Central Pollution Control Board, Transport department, BBMP, BMTC and the police department. The drive has been launched at entry points into the city.
According to The Times Of India, a five-hour-long initiative along the busy Mysuru Road revealed that several vehicles were flouting the Bharat stage IV emission norms. The agencies will hold similar drives on Tumakuru Road, Airport Road and other major roads that connect the city with neighbouring districts, this week. According to KSPCB, all vehicle-owners have been informed about the checks and in the days to come, surprise checks will be made to catch polluting vehicles.
Giving details of the first day of the drive, Lakshman, chairman, KSPCB, told Bangalore Mirror that most violations were reported by cargo vehicles that enter the city from neighbouring districts like Ramanagara, Mandya and Mysuru. “A total of 92 vehicles were checked for emission norms. Of the 71 petrol vehicles, only four failed the test. Of the 21 diesel vehicles checked, 15 failed the emission test. All of them were cargo vehicles like luggage auto-rickshaws, tempos and mini-trucks and belonged to other districts. We have not spared even those holding valid emission certificates and measured emissions using our certified equipment,” he said.
Transport authorities have penalised owners of polluting vehicles with a Rs 2,000 fine for first offence. Interestingly, BMTC buses, which are believed to emit huge amounts of toxic gases, had a 90 per cent pass rate. “Almost all BMTC buses cleared the test with their emissions well under control,” Lakshman explained. Starting from Monday, “we have decided to include government cars that are used by bureaucrats and VIPs and they will also be checked for pollution from Monday,” Lakshman said.
Sources in the Transport department said that the government had no details about the nature of vehicles that cause the maximum pollution and have assigned the joint coordination committee to conduct a study and submit a detailed report. “The study will help us find out the extent of the emission from various categories of vehicles. Currently, it is cargo vehicles that are emitting more smoke and we will wait a few days for the results to come in from other parts of the city too. After consolidating the report, we will submit a report to the government and recommend action,” Lakshman said.
The last scientific study on the city’s air quality was done back in 2009. “There have been various sources that add to air pollution, ranging from dust to vehicular emission. In fact, vehicular emission contributes 40 to 45 per cent of the city’s air pollution followed by Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) that largely comes from road-side dust. Today, with the drive, we will be able to clearly figure out what categories of vehicles are causing the most damage to Bengaluru’s air,” Lakshman said.
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