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| Last Updated:20/01/2021

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Make diesel clean and check its sale: Activists

NEW DELHI: The decision to ban diesel vehicles that are over 10 years old from Delhi has been welcomed by environmentalists though they have voiced their concern about how the order will be implemented and its fallout.

Former Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) member-secretary Dr B Sengupta pointed out, supply of food items, i.e vegetables etc, especially from other states, is dependent on trucks that run on diesel. The government should have a concrete plan in place to ensure that supplies are not affected if these trucks are stopped form entering Delhi, he said. "It is a fabulous order for the environment. Around 50,000 or so trucks enter Delhi at night and cause massive pollution. We have been asking for the trucks to be fitted with diesel particulate filters for a long time. However, I can only wonder how they will implement it. How will grain, vegetables etc come into the city now," he said.

Anumita Roychowdhury, associate director of Centre for Science and Environment, said the order was implementable. What she is concerned about is the rapid dieselization of vehicles. "A diesel vehicle emits three times more NOx and seven times more particulate matter than a petrol vehicle. This means that removing one diesel car is equivalent to removing three to seven petrol cars. However, to bring totality to this order, the huge sales in diesel cars must be discouraged. The action taken by banning older vehicles will be negated by rapid dieselization. The quality of diesel available in India is as it is 10 years behind the technology being used in Europe. It is imperative to make clean diesel available in India," she said.

The demand for a strong policy and a better regulatory mechanism was echoed by Greenpeace's Aishwarya Madineni. Welcoming the court order, she said the government simultaneously needs to strengthen its regulatory mechanism, like manufacturing and diesel quality. "Diesel vehicles have been identified as one of the primary sources of vehicular emission, but I cannot say how long the government will be able to sustain the court orders. What will help will be measures like stringent emission standards and improvement in quality of diesel," she said.

Roychowdhury added that the government needs to also look at additional measures like waste management if such an order is to be implemented. "We should not remove one form of pollution, only to shift it elsewhere.When these vehicles are phased out from Delhi, one needs to figure out how they are to be disposed of. We need a very strong scrap management system along with a recycling policy. In fact, manufacturers should be forced to make vehicles that are largely recyclable," she said.