Diesel-run auto-rickshaws to go off Patna roads from January 31, 2021

Bihar government move comes after Patna recorded worst air quality of the season on November 5

By C K Manoj
Published: Wednesday 06 November 2019

Thousands of auto-rickshaws running on diesel will go off the roads of Patna from the midnight of January 31, 2021, the Bihar government announced on November 6, 2019.

Instead, the owners of the auto-rickshaws will be encouraged to switch over to CNG or battery-operated systems.

“We have decided to ban the plying of auto-rickshaws running on diesel in Patna in a phased manner to improve air quality and keep pollution levels under control,” Bihar transport secretary Sanjay Kumar Agarwal said.

“Rather, we will promote vehicles running on CNG and battery,” he added.

Agarwal was speaking after attending a Cabinet meeting where the decision was taken. The meeting was chaired by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

According to All India Road Transport and Workers Federation secretary, Patna, Ranjeet Kumar, there are around 30,000 auto-rickshaws running in the Bihar capital currently.

In a related development, the state cabinet also banned the plying of all 15-year-old commercial vehicles in Patna with immediate effect while the movement of all government vehicles with the same age has already been banned.

As far as private vehicles of the same age are concerned, the government has directed the owners to obtain ‘pollution under control’ certificates from government-run test centres.

The action comes shortly after Patna recorded the worst air quality of the season in India on November 5, 2019, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) reaching alarmingly high levels. While the AQI remained at 324 in Delhi, it reached 414 in Patna.

Alarmed at the prevailing situation, the health department has now issued an advisory asking people to avoid going out for jogging, walking or doing physical exercise in the morning and evening.

“We are advising people to take precautions and stay indoors as far as possible,” executive director of the Bihar State Health Society Manoj Kumar, said.

The health department advisory has also asked people to keep their houses clean, avoid opening windows and doors for ventilation early morning and late evening and do regular wet mopping and dusting at home.

The advisory also asked senior citizens to keep sufficient stocks of medicines and not indulge in any physical activities.

Last year, Patna was ranked the seventh most polluted city in the world by a Greenpeace report. According to 2018 World Air Quality Report jointly prepared by IQAir AirVisual and Greenpeace, the annual level of PM 2.5 — particulate matter less than 2.5 microns — in 2018 was 119.7 micrograms per cubic metre in Patna.

The Bihar State Pollution Control Board has cited vehicular emissions, domestic fuel burning, open waste burning, construction activities, industrial emissions and road dust as the main causes of air pollution in the city.

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