Bihar’s transport department launched a mobile pollution testing van facility to deliver pollution under control (PUC) certificates on vehicle owners’ doorsteps.
After implementation of the new Motors Vehicles Act, penalty for violating PUC norms increased to Rs 10,000 and so did the footfall of certificate seekers at pollution testing centres. This prompted the department to launch the facility.
A trial of the mobile van facility was conducted at the Patna secretariat on September 18 and it will soon be completely functional with the launch of a toll-free number, said transport officials.
“We are in the process of launching a toll-free number. Once it starts functioning, the mobile van service will be operational too,” said Sanjay Agarwal, secretary, state transport department.
“Vehicle owners will then be able to call the van to their homes by dialling the toll-free number and get the PUC certificate issued on the spot within few minutes,” he added.
They will initially press 10 such vans into service in Patna and later expand it to other districts, said Agarwal.
Patna is the seventh-most polluted city in the world, according to a recent Greenpeace report. The annual level of particulate matter 2.5 in 2018 was 119.7 micrograms per cubic metre in Patna, added the 2018 World Air Quality Report, jointly prepared by IQAir AirVisual and Greenpeace.
The fear of the fine and inadequate number of pollution testing centres made vehicle owners opt for public transport.
“My PUC certificate has expired, so I have stopped rising my bike to work. I am commuting through public transport so I don’t have to pay a heavy penalty. Also, there are no pollution testing centres in and around my locality so I have failed to get the certificate renewed,” said Dilip Kumar Singh, who works in a private company in Patna.
There are around 500 such centres in Bihar, of which 98 are in Patna district, according to a report by the state transport department.
The department has also asked all petrol pumps and service centres of automobile companies to set up pollution testing centres soon. “Opening of these centres will not only curb air pollution but also provide job opportunities to youths,” said the transport secretary.
There are 2,550 outlets of various oil marketing companies in the state.
There’s also a plan to set up 150 more centres in the state in the next six months.