India will force all commercial trucks more than 15 years old off the road from April and is reviewing how it checks vehicle emissions, a senior transport official said, as the government tries to curb soaring urban air pollution.
“We are to make 15 years the end of the life for all commercial vehicles,” Vijay Chhibber, the top bureaucrat in the transport ministry, told Reuters, saying the order, not previously reported, would be made public within 10 days. “It (air pollution) will get worse every year unless we do something.”
Hauliers complained such a move would unfairly single them out, while experts said the ban was only a part of the solution.
The World Health Organization said last year that India had 13 of the 20 most polluted cities on the planet, including the worst offender, New Delhi.
Fumes spewed by a multiplying fleet of commercial vehicles, many of them old and badly maintained, are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution nationally — the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) estimates their share of vehicular emissions at 60%.
It was not clear how enforcement of the proposed ban would work, given faltering efforts to bar smoke-belching vehicles from the streets of New Delhi where the National Green Tribunal has already banned diesel vehicles more than 10 years old. It is estimated that 1,400 extra cars hit Delhi streets every day.
“Taxes on cars and parking charges should be raised to curtail usage, and public transport should be expanded,” said Vivek Chattopadhyay, a pollution expert at the CSE. “Emissions are not just related to age.”
Delhi-based haulier Jigyasu Wadhwa said the government was wrong to cast all older trucks as culprits when many newer, badly maintained vehicles were far more polluting and never penalised. “Generalising the impact 15-year-old vehicles have on the environment is stupid,” he said. “The government needs to ensure people get their vehicles maintained, whatever the age.”.