On Tuesday, District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma instructed the transport authorities to crack down on vehicles, both heavy and light, which were running without pollution control certificates and spewing fuel emissions way beyond permissible limits.
The instructions, however, did not yield desired results as tempos, mini-pickup vans, trucks and tankers could be seen running within Lucknow city limits with impunity. Only 37 tempos in the outskirts of the city were said to have been challaned so far.
According to information available, of the 20 lakh light and heavy vehicles registered with the transport authorities in Lucknow, 20 per cent are operating without going through proper and regular pollution checks.
Compounding the problem are diesel vehicles registered in Lucknow's adjoining districts, which despite having been barred from entering city limits in 2008, are operating on the outskirts of the city. During the last three years, owners of thousands of such vehicles brought in to the city from other districts were compelled to re-register after passing fitness tests.
According to assistant Regional Transport Officer (RTO) Raghavendra Singh, over the last six months action was taken against 2,253 operators whose vehicles were caught polluting the environment. During a checking drive, the department earned revenues totalling Rs 8,60,000 between May 1 and October 31 by fining vehicles that were being operated without PUC certificates.
Officials at the RTO blame the erratic supply of CNG for increase in the number of diesel vehicles. Last year, an average of 1,500 vehicles were registered each month.
However, in the current year, the number has doubled to an average of 3,000 a month.
The administration sprang into action after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath issued a warning on Monday that action would be taken against departments and officials who were neglecting their responsibility of curbing pollution in the city.
Also pressed into service were water tankers with sprinklers that went around some upmarket areas to douse dust-laden trees and buildings. The exercise, however, led to minor accidents as the roads became slippery.
There was a marked improvement in air quality on Thursday, when the air quality index (AQI) fell to 238 as against 400 on Wednesday. However, it again rose to 352 on Friday.
According to reports, over the past three days, nearly 300,000 litres of ground water was used by tankers specially commissioned by Lucknow Municipal Corporation, Jal Sansthan, Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation.
The immense use of water to tackle pollution and smog could possibly affect ground water levels and worsen the city's woes in the near future, said a Lucknow-based conservationist.