Ban BS-III vehicles in MMR to prevent air pollution: MPCB panel

ByPrayag Arora-Desai, Mumbai
Jul 25, 2021 11:00 PM IST

An independent committee constituted by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has recommended a complete ban on the entry and operation of Bharat Stage (BS)-III vehicles in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR)

An independent committee constituted by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has recommended a complete ban on the entry and operation of Bharat Stage (BS)-III vehicles in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). The committee was formed last November to address concerns around vehicular pollution in Mumbai.

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Officials said the move, if implemented, would bring about an immediate reduction in emissions while spurring the uptake of latest BS-VI emissions norms. Experts, however, cautioned that commercial vehicles such as inter-city taxis and goods carriers may be adversely affected by this proposal.

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An MPCB official, seeking anonymity, clarified that no final decision has been taken in the matter. “The committee report was submitted in June and is awaiting comments from other departments. The state government will take a decision after considering all commercial and environmental aspects,” the official said.

The recommendation was part of an exhaustive list of mitigation measures proposed by the 13-member committee, headed by former additional chief secretary (transport) Satish Saharabuddhe. The committee consists of officials from MPCB, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Automotive Research Association of India (Pune), Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Delhi), representatives from Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, and independent experts.

“The committee was constituted to make recommendations specifically on reducing vehicular pollution in the MMR region. We have suggested a range of proposals including revamping the existing pollution under control (PUC) system and setting up vehicle inspection centres along the lines of those proposed in Nashik, improving scrappage policy for legacy vehicles, remote sensing of vehicular pollutants at key junctions, and introducing a reward-based carpooling system which reduces the number of private vehicles on city streets while allowing owners to cover their cost of travel,” said committee chairman Satish Sahasrabuddhe.

“We also deliberated on e-mobility. Some of the recommendations adopted in the Electric Vehicles Policy 2021 were first suggested by us, including electrifying all state government vehicles. Converting last-mile delivery vehicles for food and logistics companies to electric two-wheelers was also something which we had initially suggested,” he said.

The committee has recommended that such companies pro-actively buyback two-wheelers from their delivery partners using corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds, and replace them with electric two-wheelers, availing incentives under Central and state schemes, which stand to significantly reduce the total cost of operation for such vehicles. The companies can further reduce the cost by availing scrappage policies,” Sahasrabuddhe said.

However, one of the most ambitious proposals in the short-term remains the ban on BS-III vehicles which, officials said, is in line with the already existing Bombay High Court instruction barring vehicles older than 16 years from plying in the city. These are mainly BS-II vehicles. “We are making this rule stricter. BS-III vehicles plying in Mumbai will now be around 10 years old. The same rule should apply to them, given that we have stricter BS-VI norms now. We have proposed that the vehicles be converted to CNG fuel in order to keep plying,” said Sahasrabuddhe.

Madhav Pai, urban policy researcher and executive director of the World Resources Institute India Ross Center, said the move to ban the operation of BS-III vehicles in MMR is a positive step. “But there will be livelihoods at stake. People who operate older goods carriers and other commercial vehicles will require some support so that they can affordably make the switch to newer BS-VI vehicles,” he said.

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