Vehicular pollution check continues to be sham even as Delhi chokes on foul air | delhi news | Hindustan Times
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Vehicular pollution check continues to be sham even as Delhi chokes on foul air

Two months ago, the Supreme Court had made pollution under control (PUC) certificates mandatory for renewing vehicle insurance

delhi Updated: Oct 25, 2017 12:55 IST
Sweta Goswami
Sweta Goswami
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Air Pollution,PUC,Pollution Check
Delhi transport department officials check passenger buses for pollution at ISBT Kashmere Gate. (Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)

What documents did you submit while renewing your car insurance? Most probably only the registration certificate (RC) of your vehicle. But did you know that two months ago, the Supreme Court had made pollution under control (PUC) certificates mandatory for renewing vehicle insurance?

Two months after the order, many companies and associated vehicle dealers in Delhi continue to hand out renewal papers without pollution certificates.

“You just need to visit our office with the RC book of your car and the renewal will be done,” a car dealer in East Delhi said.

Renewing the policy is easier on online portals as the companies directly send payment details without even asking for the RC.

“If you have our online insurance, the RC is not required for its renewal as we already have it in our database. You have to fill a few details. We shall mail you the payment gateway and it will be done,” a customer care executive of a leading insurance company said.

When asked if a PUC certificate is required, representatives of companies Hindustan Times spoke to said it was not necessary.

The onus of implementing the order now lies with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH), which has been asked to set up PUC checking units at all fuel stations across the national capital region.

The order, which aims to curb pollution, is just one of the many rules being brazenly flouted when it comes to PUC certificates.

ALMOST ALL VEHICLES PASS TEST

Delhi has over 10 million registered vehicles but only 1,004 PUC centres. Of this, 5.56 million vehicles need to get new PUC certificates every quarter as they meet only BS-III emission standards or even less.

BS-IV vehicles, on the other hand, need to get PUC conducted annually.

Despite the sheer volume of cars and the fact that most of them, especially all two-wheelers, are BS-III, the number of vehicles that fail the pollution test is as low as 4.69%.

Also, out of 13.7 lakh emission data analysed for Delhi, nearly 20 per cent of tests have recorded zero values, showed a survey on PUC centres across Delhi-NCR conducted by the Supreme Court-empowered Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).

“Diesel vehicles, which release the maximum toxic emissions, had the lowest failure rate at 1.68%, whereas, it should have been just the opposite. Most polluting vehicles are diesel-run trucks and inter-state buses, many of which are over 10 years old,” said Sunita Narain, member EPCA.

Reasons for the poor failure rate were inadequately done tests, malpractice and weak norms. “Inspection teams in PUC centres found rampant cheating through fake software, issue of false passes and inappropriate tests. Some units were found to be operating with malfunctioning equipment,” the report stated.

Challenge to check pollution
With over a million registered vehicles, Delhi has struggled to contain highly noxious pollutants released by vehicle exhaust

SPECIAL PUC TEAM NEEDED

With a compliance rate of 23.2%, most vehicles in Delhi continue to remain out of the PUC checking network.

The Delhi government’s transport department and the traffic police are required to monitor or enforce the PUC programme.

The transport department, which is responsible for monitoring these centres and also has the power to prosecute errant drivers, blamed it on “staff crunch.”

“We have less than 50 pollution level test inspectors (PLTIs) for PUC checks. But, half of them are doubling up as motor licensing officers to check fitness of vehicles, take driving tests and to issue licenses,” said a transport department official who is not authorised to speak to the media.

The problem has emerged as the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection (DSSSB) is yet to recruit more licensing officers in the transport department.

Though the traffic police has a bigger force of 5700 personnel on the field, they have a number of other duties to perform.

“From January 1 to October 24, the traffic Police issued 24,597 PUC challans. So, we do work proactively. But our officers have to pay attention to other aspects too,” said Garima Bhatnagar, joint commissioner of Police (traffic).

Traffic officials said they have to regulate traffic and prosecute violators. Accidents take much time as an immediate report has to be submitted to the local police apart from filling up the incident report diary as directed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Experts suggest the only way is to create a special team for pollution checks.

“Pollution monitoring is a collaborative act. It definitely calls for an exclusive unit having prosecuting powers comprising officials from traffic, transport and even MCDs,” said Dr. Sewa Ram of the department of traffic and transport at the School of Planning and Architecture.

TRUCKS AND BUSES

Nearly 80,000 trucks and 3,700 inter-state buses enter Delhi every day. Most run on diesel and are more than 10 years old.

Inspection of buses at the Kashmere Gate ISBT on Tuesday found that almost 50% buses were flouting PUC norms.

“On Tuesday, we installed a mobile PUC unit at the ISBT. Of at least 50 buses we checked, 24 failed the PUC test. Surprisingly, many had valid PUC certificates,” said KK Dahiya, special commissioner (transport).

In November 2015, the SC has directed levying an environment compensation charge (ECC) or ‘environment cess’ on trucks entering Delhi. It was expected to reduce the number of trucks entering Delhi by nearly 30%.

Data from the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) suggested this tax is being actively collected by the concessionaire.

“From November 6, 2015 till October 2017, we have collected ₹971 crore from 85,000 vehicles,” said an SDMC spokesperson.

Asked about the impact of the cess, Sunita Narain said the EPCA was conducting a study on it.

“A study is underway to find out he impact of this cess, whether the number of trucks have reduced or not. Besides, we are also looking at how effectively this is being implemented,” she said.