Pollution checking centres flaunt norms, worsen air quality in Srinagar

Suhail Bhat
SRINAGAR, Sept 26:  Poor enforcement of pollution checking norms allow pollution checking centres to manipulate the emission reports that has led to further deterioration of ambient air in summer capital here.
An official at Pollution Control Board (PCB) said the inspection, which their department carried, revealed half the numbers of existing checking outlets in Srinagar were involved in irregularities like tampering the emission reports and giving clearance certificates to polluting vehicles.
“The sensory stick that is used to test the concentration in the tailpipe is not inserted properly. The smoke density test in diesel vehicle which takes some twenty- twenty-five minutes are manipulated to save time and reports are manipulated,” he said.
As per the official records of Pollution Control Board, out of 24 pollution checking centres that were operating in the city, 19 were found to be violating the prescribed norms in the first phase of the inspection. “Not only is the state of outlets that are operating in the city dismal but the condition of rural outlets is bleak too. They do not even look like pollution centres. People there obtain certificates without conducting tests,” the PCB official said.
Imran Ahmad Ganaie, a motorist from city outskirts, said he went to a nearby pollution-checking centre for a pollution check but was issued a clearance certificate without conducting probe. “The operator only took a photograph and handed over a clearance certificate to me. He committed a fraud in front of me. He also charged more than the prescribed rate,” he said.
As per the prescribed norms of  Motor Vehicle Department, pollution checking centres have to charge Rs. 15 for two-wheelers or cars and Rs. 25 for three-wheelers and taxies, but PCCs in Batamaloo, Bage-Mahtab, Nowgam and many other places were charging Rs 50 to Rs 70.
According to the rules set by the Motor Department, a PCC must possess a workable piece of land where at least five vehicles can be accommodated. The person operating the centre should have a valid qualification certificate in mechanical or automobile trade with at least one year of experience.
Besides, the centres should get no-objection certificates (NOC) from local authorities confirming that their functioning will not affect the environment. The pollution checking equipment should also be purchased only from companies approved by the Ministry of Surface Transport or Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI).
Moreover, an applicant has to re-calibrate the checking equipment after an Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) on yearly basis. He also has to deposit Rs 10,000 as security, authorization fee of Rs 7,000, and Rs 3,000 annually as a renewal fee.
Zahoor Ahmad, a scientist at Pollution Control Board, when contacted, said reacting on a Public interest Litigation over the impact of vehicular effluents on the environment the High Court ordered both Pollution control Board and Transport department to work together to put a check on the emissions.
“The inspection of the pollution checking centres was the first step in the whole process. In the first drive that we conducted, almost all the centres were found to lack one or other thing. We issue notices to 12 such centres and a time of nearly three months was given to them to fill the gaps. Now all the outlets under our strict supervision and if the inspection continues with the same speed we will be able to bring down the harmful vehicular emission to a great deal,” he said.
On 10th of June, a division bench of the J&K High Court directed the authorities to determine if the PCCs were functioning properly. “The status report shall be filed by the PCB to indicate the number of inspections of the pollution checking centres,” the HC ordered. However, the Motor Department is yet to submit its action report to the high court.


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