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Our lives in their hands

Our lives in their hands

Publication: KolkataMusing.com
Date: June 28, 2008
URL: http://www.kolkatamusing.com/2008/06/our-lives-in-their-hands.html

Sometime back a co-passenger in the Metro coming from Hyderabad was narrating his surprise when he found there were no 3-wheeler autos at the filling stations.

His surprise was justified because after all many city roads are clogged with them, which meant that there must be many thousands that plied on the road every day.

I told him the reason, and he nodded saying that he soon discovered that the autos fill their tanks from clandestine roadside shops. Sooner thereafter he also found out that the fuel the autos used was an admixture of petrol and some other fuel.

It takes no special brain to conclude that the typical admixture is not a lab tested product. This likely means that when the fuel burns during combustion when the autos run, it leaves behind 'residues' that are highly toxic and detrimental to health.

Today's TT reports that the green bench of the Calcutta High Court has agreed to hear on July 18 the subject of auto pollution as a separate case. This is in response to a plea by Subhas Dutta, the noted environment activist.

The TT news informs that Calcutta's annual average RPM (respirable particulate matter) count is about 105 micrograms per cubic metre, 45 micrograms above the permissible limit of 60 micrograms. Even the state government has admitted that air pollution kills at least 10,000 people in Calcutta every year.

According to activist Dutta, as per report of the Central Pollution Control Board, 50 to 70 per cent pollution in any of the metros across the country arises from auto emission. In Calcutta, the pollution caused by autos is the worst in the world.

If these are true, you may think, then how the hell do autos still run the way they do every single day. By creating air pollution, are they not causing slow death to millions of people?

I'd say you're too naïve to think so, because in many aspects Kolkata bears similarity with the despotic ways some African countries are ruled where what matter are just the wills of ruling warlords.

To support my argument let me quote from the article 'Autos you ride fill CITU kitty' in June 8 issue of the Hindustan Times' Kolkata Live.

An auto-rickshaw driver on the Ruby-Hiland Park route along EM Bypass said: "It doesn't matter which political party you support. If you want to ply on this route, you will have to pay the unions a certain amount of money everyday. Otherwise, you will not be allowed to operate on the route. The unions demand a hefty amount when you enter the route. The union members will also take your vehicle when there is a political meeting to transport their cadres or anytime when they need it. But, you will not get any money for that."

Let me sum up. Though the rights and safekeeping of life and property of the people of the country are guarded by the Constitution, they are effortlessly flouted by a section of people who care for nothing else but their own selfish unlawful ends.

These people have taken law into their hands even as the law keepers look elsewhere.

This has to stop. But, will it?

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