In what may come as a temporary reprieve for Ranchi's ageing auto-rickshaws, Jharkhand High Court on Monday asked the Union government to explain its stand on barring three-wheelers more than 10 years old from capital roads.
The Centre will have to file an affidavit on the original PIL by one Rajnish Mishra against increasing vehicular pollution in the city.
On May 15, the high court had directed the state administration to ban in Ranchi smoke-belching auto-rickshaws, which were over 10 years old calculated from their individual dates of manufacturing.
However, on Monday, the Auto-rickshaw Owners' Association sought a modification of the order, citing the Motor Vehicles Act that empowers only the Centre to seal the ban on old commercial vehicles.
It said that only the Centre could decide whether to reduce the phasing out cap of 15 years to 10 years for certain commercial vehicles.
Another petition was filed before the court on Monday by a bus owner, Chanchal Chatterjee, stating that the transport department had stopped issuing permits to long-distance, interstate buses, which start from the city.
The high court clarified that the ban was, currently, restricted to auto-rickshaws and buses were not in its purview.
Rajnish Mishra had filed his PIL in 2008, which said air and noise pollution levels in the capital were far above the normal range and could pose health hazards for residents.
According to his petition, the city sees 6,000-odd auto-rickshaws plying every day, but only 2,300 of them have permits.
After the high court order, 5,700 autos were identified as old, of which most had been plying without permits.