The Chennai Traffic Police have acquired 16 new vehicles under a World Bank scheme to check the pollutant emission levels of vehicles in the city.

The move comes in the wake of a high-level meeting of police, pollution control board and other senior officials convened by Chief Secretary K.S. Sripathi on Wednesday to enhance the quality of air, police sources said.

On Saturday, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) M. Ravi launched an intensive drive against vehicles causing pollution by emitting smoke containing toxins over and above the permissible levels. He said the traffic police had registered 36,000 cases in this specific offence in the recent past with fine amount varying between Rs. 50 and Rs. 500.

Mr. Ravi said all vehicles more than one year old should have an emission check certificate done once in six months. Vehicles emit smoke containing carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbon and other toxins that are injurious to the health.

“This is a silent killer that endangers the safety of the people and the environment. There are more than 160 emission testing centres spread across Chennai for the benefit of vehicle users. Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses are checked at the depots,” he said.

Appealing to the public to inform the police control room by dialling ‘100’ or ‘103’ if they come across vehicles emitting thick smoke, Mr. Ravi said firm action, including suspension of driving licence and seizure of vehicles, would be taken against habitual offenders.

Traffic police would have a database of the action taken against accused persons with details of vehicles and it would be easy to detect habitual offenders, he added.

The 16 pollution testing vehicles stationed strategically would conduct random checks of vehicles across the city, police sources added.