The rapid growth in the number of automobiles in the city has turned the focus on the need for the authorities to take stringent measures to contain air and noise pollution.
The number of motor vehicles has been steadily growing over the past 12 years, according to the Transport Department. The number of registered vehicles in and around Chennai as on April 1 this year was 26,58,083, whereas it was 9,75,915 on April 1, 1998. As on September 1, this year, the number stood at 31,97,575.
It is in this backdrop that the Transport Department had proposed to lay greater emphasis on the vehicles conforming to the emission norms. In a circular on November 2, 2010, to all the regional transport officers (RTOs) and insurance companies, Transport Commissioner M.Rajaram said that “all vehicles shall have to undergo the smoke emission check periodically and be in possession of at all times the Pollution Under Control certificates.”
With regard to the noise pollution, he said it had been brought to the notice of his office that in a number of cases autorickshaws produce noise exceeding the permitted decibel levels. Mr. Rajaram said it is desirable for the RTOs and Motor Vehicles Inspectors to increase the number of checks of vehicles and the periodicity of such checks. The insurance companies have already been asked to insist upon the production of a valid PUC at the time of the renewal of the insurance.
He said that though the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, state that every vehicle should get the PUC certificate every six months, it is not followed by a majority of the private vehicle owners. The department has been able to enforce this rule on transport vehicles, as the vehicle-owners have to compulsorily produce the certificate at the time of renewing their permits and issuing fitness certificates. The private vehicle owners, however, do not have similar compulsions.
Confirming that most non-transport vehicle owners do not renew the PUC certificate every six months, A.Jai Kumar, president, Tamil Nadu Vehicle Emission Check Centre Association, said that on an average only 200 vehicles undergo emission checks every month at each of the 55 testing centres in and around Chennai.
Of these 70 to 80 are autorickshaws. Mr. Kumar said stricter enforcement by the RTOs and traffic police would create awareness among the private vehicle owners to renew the certificate regularly.
The traffic police are also taking steps to curb air pollution through surprise checks. They have acquired 16 vehicles with World Bank aid to check vehicular emission levels.
A senior police official said that on an average 1,000 cases are booked daily for violation of emission standards with a spot fine of Rs.100 on each vehicle.