State government in no mood to extend the deadline to ban diesel vehicles that had been extended for two years due to COVID-19
The Bihar transport department has decided to ban all diesel-run buses and autos in capital Patna from April 1, 2022, even as owners of such vehicles have protested the decision, officials said.
Shree Prakash, the Patna district transport officer, said March 28 that the deadline to allow diesel-run buses and auto rickshaws to run will end March 31.
The government is unlikely to extend the deadline and there will be a ban on diesel-run buses and auto rickshaws.
“We will not allow diesel-run vehicles on the road and will ask owners to take their vehicles off the roads. The department will seize such vehicles if they violate the ban and its permit will be cancelled,” Prakash said.
Last week, Bihar Transport Secretary Sanjay Kr Agarwal had said that the department was ready to implement the deadline from April 1 after extending it twice due to COVID-19.
Agarwal said the government had decided in 2019 itself to ban diesel vehicles from Patna’s roads to check increasing air pollution. But its implementation was delayed.
The diesel-run buses and auto rickshaws will be off the roads in the urban area of Patna Municipal Corporation and the neighbouring semi-urban area of Danapur, Khagaul and Phulwarisharif.
Officials of the Patna transport office said it was first decided to end the plying of diesel-run vehicles by January 2020, after the state cabinet decision to ban diesel vehicles in the city.
But this deadline was extended till March 31, 2022.
According to officials of the Patna transport office, the deadline was extended to provide an opportunity to the owners to convert vehicles to compressed natural gas (CNG). However, petrol-run auto rickshaws will be off the roads soon as well.
Official data of the transport department shows that there are 250 diesel-run buses and 12,000 diesel- run auto rickshaws in Patna. All of them will be off the roads if the ban is implemented.
There are 8,000 petrol-run auto rickshaws and 15,000 CNG-run auto rickshaws in Patna. Besides, nearly 10,000 e-rickshaws ply on the city’s roads. Similarly, there are 70 CNG buses and 26 electric buses in Patna.
There are only 16 CNG filling stations in the city as of now. Government officials said the number will increase to double in the next two to three months.
Prakash said the department has encouraged owners of private diesel buses, including mini buses, to convert to CNG.
The Bihar State Road Transport Corporation has started the process to procure more CNG buses for plying on roads here.
Raj Kr Jha, general secretary of the Bihar State Auto Chalak Sangh, said most auto rickshaw owners and drivers will protest the government decision if the government failed to extend the deadline of banning diesel autos.
"This will snatch the livelihoods of thousands of drivers. They will protest," he said.
Jha said the government should increase the subsidy amount for purchasing CNG autos as the Rs 40,000 provided by the government currently is inadequate. A CNG auto costs Rs 3-3.5 lakh.
A private bus owner Munna Singh said the government should give more time to owners to convert diesel buses to CNG or provide them more subsidies to purchase a costly CNG bus.
Patna's air quality index has become 'very poor' in recent years. Experts and the Bihar State Pollution Control Board have emphasised that air quality in Patna has deteriorated due to vehicular emissions, along with other things.
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