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| Last Updated:23/05/2020

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Green panel sets 10-year limit for diesel vehicles

NGT ORDER Private or commercial, all old diesel vehicles in Delhi-NCR zone to go off roads, but implementation hard

NEW DELHI: The national green tribunal Tuesday ordered all diesel vehicles, private and commercial, over 10 years old off Delhi-NCR’s roads, a decision that could go a long way in cleaning the Capital’s toxic air but prove difficult to implement.

The crackdown is set to begin on Wednesday itself with the green court ordering government agencies to set up border checks for all vehicles entering Delhi. The action follows an earlier NGT order banning all vehicles 15 years and older in Delhi and comes a day after the NDA government launched a colourcoded national air quality index, amid reports of worsening air pollution taking a dangerous toll on people.

But Tuesday’s order is easier said than done. The biggest problem, according to the concerned agencies, is a severe lack of manpower to carry out the checks and of space for the impounded vehicles. There’s also the certainty of mile-long jams, which would add to the pollution at border points. Delhi has around 1,18,773 registered private vehicles and 34,659 commercial vehicles that run on diesel, government sources. Finding out the number of those over 10 years old could be tricky as the departments do not have digitised records of old vehicles.

The previous ban on vehicles 15 years and older — which accounts for almost a third of the 8.4 million registered vehicles — has made little headway with just 1,100 impounded in the four months since it was passed.

“We need to control dieselization of new cars and to ensure heavy vehicles such as trucks run on cleaner diesel,” said Anumita Roychowdhury of the Centre for Science and Environment.

Noting that diesel was the main source of air pollution in Delhi, the tribunal said, “Diesel fumes damage the lungs and brain and even cause cancer. The situation is so alarming that doctors are advising people to leave Delhi.”

“Stringent measures need to be taken to ensure residents of Delhi do not travel closer to ill-health with each breath they take. The greatest sufferers are children. Thus, we direct that all diesel vehicles, heavy or light, that are 10 years old will not be permitted on the roads of Delhi and NCR.” It added that a number of countries such as Brazil, China and Denmark have already taken such action or are in the process of doing so.

The tribunal, which will hear the matter next on April 10, has asked the Delhi government to submit a list of petrol vehicles older than 15 years and diesel vehicles older than 10 years.

The government, in turn, asked the Centre on Tuesday to make a provision in the law to impose hefty fines on vehicles over 15 years old that enter the city.