The National Green Tribunal (NGT) order to ban all diesel vehicles older than 10 years old will be a tough one to implement.
“We’re still struggling to implement the tribunal’s November 2014 order banning all vehicles older than 15 years because we only have accumulative data that doesn’t take into account vehicles scrapped, sold or transferred,” said a senior traffic police official.
Since November 26, when the earlier order was delivered, only 1,100 vehicles have been impounded.
The NGT on Tuesday said all private and commercial diesel vehicles more than 10 years old will not be permitted to ply in Delhi and NCR, a move likely to help clean up the capital’s highly toxic air.
“We are waiting for a list from the transport department to know the number of diesel vehicles registered before 2005 that are still plying in the city. We cannot stop every vehicle because this will cause inconvenience, jams and pollution,” the officer said.
“Even if we identify all such polluting vehicles, where is the space to keep them? There would be many vehicles that may not pass the age test but could be emission efficient,” he said.
According to a government report, Delhi has about six lakh registered diesel vehicles, including 86,000 commercial ones. The number of private diesel vehicles older than 10 years in the city is 118,773, while the number of commercial vehicles is 34,659.
A Centre for Science and Environment, CSE, report said the maintenance of a vehicle is more important than the age of a car. “The focus should be on annual fitness,” it said.
Automobile expert Tutu Dhawan said, “What will happen to the lakhs of interstate buses that cross the city every day and what about private vehicles which have to cross Delhi to reach other states? We need a holistic plan.”
“The government record is not updated. Every four-five year people change cars. They end up in smaller cities and towns. You can neither quantify not identify such vehicles,” he said, adding, “People do not buy expensive cars only for 10 years. These vehicles are modelled to last more than 15 years.”
Pollution control expert Anumita Roychowdhury, however, welcomed the NGT order.
“This order will make a substantial impact. If all kinds of polluting diesel vehicles are taken off, air quality will improve. What we now need is proper implementation.”
“There are two more critical issues: We need to control rapid dieselisation of new cars. The second challenge is to ensure heavy vehicles such as trucks run on cleaner diesel,” she said.
The NGT, which will hear the matter next on April 10, has now asked the government to submit a list of all petrol vehicles older than 15 years and diesel ones older than 10 years plying in Delhi.
The Delhi government has asked the Centre to make a provision in the law to impose hefty fines on vehicles more than 15 years old entering the city.