“We have to phase out old vehicles that do not comply with the emission standards to reduce the pollution level in the city,” said Vaman Acharya, Chairman, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB).
If the Pollution Control Board implements the proposed plan, nearly 15,000 two-stroke autorickshaws will go off the roads soon.
According to Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), almost 20 per cent of the city’s increasing pollution levels are contributed by two-stroke autos.
“Two-stroke autos cause one-and-a-half times more pollution than four-stroke autos,” Acharya said.
“We could not sell the autos because it would fetch us meagre amount and we could not buy new ones because the banks would not sanction us loans. Some drivers who took loans could not repay,” explained Manjunatha, president, Adarsha Auto Union.
Now, on the request of KSPCB, the State Transport Department organised a meeting between autorickshaw unions and banks that provide financial assistance required to replace old vehicles with the new and more fuel-efficient ones to solve the issue.
“Formation of co-operative societies which would ensure that the loans are repaid on time was the resultant of the meeting. With the smooth functioning of this process, all the two-stroke autos will be off the roads very soon,” said K R Srinivas, Commissioner of Transport and Road Safety.
Since 2004, the Transport Department has been making efforts to get the two-stroke autos off the roads, but it failed to do so as there were resistance from the auto drivers unions. They said it can not be done without suitable financial assistance.
To solve the problem, the state government started offering subsidies to auto driver who wished to sell his two-stroke auto and buy a new four-stroke one.
“The subsidy that was announced then was only `10,000. We had asked for a subsidy of `20,000. Later the government started giving a subsidy of `15,000. If the subsidies are increased, it will really help us,” Manjunatha said.