The Supreme Court has sought the Centre’s reply on a report by the Environment Protection Control Authority, terming Delhi’s air pollution as critical because of the rise of diesel vehicles on the road.
The authority recommended a ban on registration of diesel vehicles for personal use.
“This restriction should also be applied to vehicles entering the city from neighbou-ring states as otherwise, the influx of these vehicles into the city will continue to grow and will negate the gains of pollution control measures,” the report said.
The court, which issued the notice last Friday, has given the Centre four weeks to reply.
The pollution report correlated increase in respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOX) levels with higher registration of diesel vehicles in Delhi.
The number of diesel cars has increased by nearly 425 per cent over the last decade, but fell after the introduction of CNG, the report said.
Every day 963 new vehicles ply Delhi’s roads, of which 308 are diesel-run.
While registration of petrol cars has increased at the annual rate of 8.5 per cent, diesel vehicle registrations have gone up by 16.6 per cent.
Quoting information from the Society of Automobile Association of India, the report said, the market share of diesel cars has increased to over 30 per cent in the last 18 months and is expected to be 50 per cent by 2010, when Delhi hosts the Commonwealth Games.
These additional vehicles, the report said, would release particulate matter equal to 30,000 diesel buses.
This month, the respirable suspended particulate matter level touched 240 microgram per cubic metre, which is higher than the level in 2002 when CNG was introduced.
“Diesel vehicles in 2004 contributed 23 per cent to RSPM levels,” the report said. The report also said the emission from diesel vehicles is more toxic than petrol vehicles and cited various studies to substantiate this.
The report also said that diesel cars meeting the Bharat Stage III emission standards are allowed to emit three times more NOX and RSPM than the petrol cars. “Petrol cars emit negligible particulate matter while every diesel car is allowed to emit 0.05 gram per kilometre under the Bharat Stage III norms,” the report said.
But in Europe the NOX and RSPM standards for petrol and diesel vehicles are similar, the report said.
Pointing out that Pollution Under Control System, measuring the polluting level of diesel vehicles, has not worked the report said that the standards for the smoke density test for a PUC certificate was quite low.
Hence, of the 50 diesel vehicles checked, none failed the test. “Worldwide the smoke density test has failed. Countries like Australia have adopted better technologies,” the report said.
EPCA also found out in June 2006 that some PUC centres were fudging their certificates, which it said, were issued without even starting the engine of the vehicles or sometimes by tinkering with the machines.
Putting forth the point about the report, amicus curiae Harish Salve said the time has come to take corrective measures or the gains of introduction of CNG would be lost.