Special Correspondent

Kolkata: The city air quality has improved following the implementation of the programme of phasing out of polluting public vehicles, West Bengal Environment Minister Sailen Sarkar has said. There has been a substantial reduction in level of carbon monoxide and benzene which is a considered a potential human carcinogenic (causing leukemia), according to a department press release.

Addressing a newsmen at the Secretariat here on Wednesday, he said that while there has been a reduction in pollutants like carbon monoxide, the level of chemicals like benzene and nitrogen dioxide has been brought under control.

“The noticeable reduction of carcinogenic pollutants like benzene level in Kolkata air indicates that the decision of the State Government to phase out petrol-driven two-stroke auto-rickshaws by LPG- driven ones has been very successful,” he said adding that the lowering of carbon monoxide level was due to increased fuel efficiency of the phased-out old vehicles and buses as also the use of catalytic converters in the new generation vehicles.

It may be mentioned that since August 2009, the State government ha been implementing an order of the Kolkata High Court for minimising automobile pollution so as to improve the city air quality. As part of this drive, initiated in December 2008, the government started phasing out the two-stroke petrol driven auto- rickshaws extending the owners a subsidy scheme to ease the transition. Vintage vehicles and buses registered more than 15 years ago were also being phased out gradually to bring in Bharat Stage III compliant vehicles.