As the news spread, petrol pump owners and their staff expressed their apprehension that they would have a tough time dealing with customers and asked for civil defence volunteers and cops to be deployed for dealing with people who may insist on getting their tanks filled. There was a consensus that enforcing the ban was not their job.
They pointed out how in 2019, the Noida administration had decided to deny fuel to two-wheeler drivers who didn’t wear a helmet. That ban now exists only on paper. There were daily fights and the petrol pump owners protested. The forecourt manager of a petrol pump in Connaught Place, Jitender Kumar (45), said people turn up asking for fuel in bottles and cans though it has been banned. Similarly, asking people to wear masks during the height of the Covid pandemic would make many people bristle.
Urging people to help in the fight against pollution, Rai said at a press conference: “I am telling Delhiites that it is not possible to implement the winter action plan without your cooperation. Your health and well-being are of utmost importance to us and we will work day and night to tighten our noose on pollution.”
The minister said that while the Delhi government had taken several measures to curb vehicular pollution in the past and prioritised it in the recently announced 15-point winter action plan, the decision on PUC certificates will also help in controlling pollution during winter.
The transport department will issue a notice on Monday and people will have time till October 25 to get the PUC certificates, Rai said. “It will also send notices to all government departments to check if their vehicles have valid PUCs,” he added.
“To take this step, we had released a public notice for suggestions on March 3, 2022 and followed it up with notices to all departments on March 14. We received suggestions from all the stakeholders by May 2. I chaired a meeting with officials of the transport department, traffic police, food supplies department and all other bodies concerned on September 29 where this decision was taken,” said Rai.
Vehicle owner B Chatterjee expressed his scepticism about the plan. He had a few questions of his own. “Why are most of the PUC centres located at petrol pumps? Why can’t these be opened in colonies and made more accessible. Compliance will automatically go up. Getting a PUC can prove to be a pain and those who don’t have the luxury of giving the task to their drivers dread getting stuck in the queue. On some occasions, after a long wait I have been told the server was hanging. Have these issues been sorted out?”
The government, however, feels this step is going to pay dividends in the fight against winter pollution. Rai pointed out that a green war room to keep an eye on the pollution levels during winter would be launched on October 3. An anti-dust campaign will begin on October 6 and free spraying of Pusa biodecomposer to prevent stubble burning will start on October 10, he said.
Meanwhile, the 15-point plan under Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) came into force on Saturday. “The Delhi government will strictly implement GRAP. However, a joint action plan should be made for all NCR states,” said Rai.