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Norms flouted, 400 pollution check centres face shutdown 

Patiala: The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has asked the state government to cancel authorisation to 400-odd pollution checking centres across the state, citing violation of norms and the use of obsolete technology.In a recent letter to the Transport Department, PPCB chairman Kahan Singh Pannu said: “PPCB teams checked the centres and found that the machines were of poor quality. These were not even calibrated, yet the centres were issuing pollution-free certificates to vehicles, thus affecting the air quality.”Two major proposals floated by the PPCB are still pending with the department – a ban on the registration of diesel-run autorickshaws, and computerised pollution checking centres.Punjab has about 65 lakh registered petrol and diesel-run vehicles. The department has authorised around 400 pollution checking centres, many of which are running from vans parked at various spots in the state. These centres, which are run by private individuals, charge Rs 80 each for four-wheelers and Rs 50 for two-wheelers.The letter by the board chief stated that poor enforcement of pollution checking norms allowed the centres to manipulate emission reports. “The need of the hour is to allow only self-calibrated, computerised centres which are more accurate and efficient,” it added.A PPCB official said a recent inspection revealed that half of the outlets were committing irregularities such as tampering with emission reports and giving clearance certificates to polluting vehicles.“The sensor stick is not inserted properly. The report of the smoke density test for a diesel vehicle, which takes 20-25 minutes, is manipulated to save time,” he said, adding that certificates were also given to old vehicles without an inspection.A senior official in the Transport Department said the technology used by the centres needed to be upgraded. “A decision will be taken soon,” he said, adding that the PPCB communiqué had been forwarded to the government.“We will phase out the centres once the new technology is cleared by the government,” he added.

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