Kolkata auto unions threaten protests against court’s ban

December 31st, 2008 - 10:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 31 (IANS) Auto-rickshaw drivers in Kolkata Wednesday threatened to go on a “peaceful” agitation by staging road blockades if they are forced not to run their vehicles from Thursday.”We’ll stage peaceful protests across the city if the police and the administration stop us from running the autorickshaws tomorrow (Thursday),” Trinamool Congress-led auto unions’ leader Sobhon Deb Chattopadhyay said.

Earlier in July, the Calcutta High Court issued an order to ban commercial vehicles registered before Jan 1, 1993 from Kolkata and its outskirts.

The court also directed that all autorickshaws, irrespective of their date of registration, will have to convert to either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

It said the order should be implemented by Dec 31 in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area, which includes parts of north and south 24-Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly.

“The family members of the auto drivers will hit the streets and agitate against the directive if the state government imposes ban on the two-stroke autos,” Chattopadhyay added.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Transport Minister Subhas Chakraborty held a meeting with auto unions Wednesday evening to discuss the issue.

“We’re also in favour of mitigating pollution level in the environment, caused especially by the two-stroke autos. We need some more time from the Calcutta High Court to phase out the two-stroke autorickshaws from Kolkata and its adjoining areas,” Shyamal Chakraborty, president of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the labour arm of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

According to estimates, if the government implements the court order, around 80,000 autorickshaws, 24,000 taxis and over 8,000 buses and mini-buses would be affected.

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