Govt lays out norms for using remote sensing devices for monitoring vehicular emission
The Centre has drafted guidelines for the installation of remote sensing devices to monitor on-road vehicular exhaust emissions, collect data, and recommend pollution thresholds for different vehicles and fuel types.
A remote sensing device measures exhaust emission through absorption spectroscopy without interfering with the vehicle or its driver. The device comprises a light source and a detector that is placed on the side of the road or at a height to transmit a laser beam. The beam measures the exhaust fumes remotely through spectroscopy when vehicles cross its light path.
The measurement of exhaust emissions from vehicles during normal, on-road operations is key to any effective system for controlling air pollution. Remote sensing can alter the way emissions are currently monitored from on-road vehicles and allow more efficient screening of highly polluting vehicles. It is essential for detecting discrepancies between certification-test performance and actual real-world vehicle emissions.
Vehicular emissions are one of the biggest contributors to PM2.5 pollutants, which are fine, inhalable particulate matter with diameters that are generally 2.5 microns, or about 30 times smaller than a strand of human hair. India recorded the world’s highest annual average concentration of PM 2.5 exposure in its air in 2019, according to the State of Global Air 2020 (Soga 2020) report released this month.
The norms for installation of remote sensing devices come in the backdrop of a directive issued by the Supreme Court in 2018 on the recommendations of the Environment (Pollution and Prevention) Control Authority (EPCA), instructing the Delhi government to explore remote sensing technology for on-road screening of polluting vehicles.
“We have drafted the guidelines to help state governments set up these devices as it is a new technology. They can be installed along roadsides and capture the emissions of the vehicles. It will be instrumental in analysing the emission of vehicles on road. A pilot had been done too after the directions of the Supreme Court,” an official said, requesting anonymity.
The transport ministry has drafted guidelines specifying the minimum technical and performance requirements for the remote sensing equipment.
HT has reviewed a copy of the guidelines, prepared by the Automotive Industry Standards Committee (AISC). The standards need to be approved by the permanent CMVR Technical Standing Committee (CTSC). CMVR is short for Central Motor Vehicles Rules.
After approval by CTSC, the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), Pune, being the secretariat of the AISC, will publish the standards.
“The matter of control of in-use vehicle emissions was deliberated at the 60th Meeting of Standing Committee on Implementation of Emission Legislation, held on 22nd August 2019 and subsequently an AIS panel under the Chairmanship of Director-ICAT was constituted with a focus to finalise technical guidance on remote sensing equipment, remote sensing data reporting which specifies design, construction, networking and data sharing of the motor vehicle and recommend polluter thresholds for a different vehicle and different fuel types,” the draft guidelines say.
“In the 61st Meeting of Standing Committee on Implementation of Emission Legislation held on 13th February 2020, it was directed to consider polluter thresholds based on prevalent emission norms and in the absence of authentic data for these thresholds, the Committee had agreed to consider the first year as monitoring phase to arrive at threshold values. This standard is technology-neutral and does not restrict any arrangement for implementation based on the recommendations for implementing of remote sensing of emissions of in-use vehicles for on-road monitoring as per the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the EPCA Report No 99 dated 26th July 2019,” the guidelines add.
The remote sensing devices will be fitted with emission analysers. The devices will be linked to the central vehicle database, Vahan, and also to each vehicle’s FASTag, which allows electronic toll collection at highway plazas, according to the draft guidelines.
“The RSD [remote sensing device] must be GPS/IRNSS enabled – to identify the location of the device and communication with the authorized servers for data exchange [real-time data transfer]. There must be a system to capture the image of the registration number of the vehicle at a rate of 99% or greater of the vehicles passing through the RSD measurement location,” the guidelines say.
GPS stands for Global Positioning System and IRNSS for Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System.
The system must also be equipped with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) or any other suitable technology to identify the registration numbers of vehicles. It will also have a FASTag reader for mapping the registration.
The pollution thresholds must be decided categorically while differentiating from the following parameters: category of the vehicle, the emission norms (Bharat Stage), and fuel type. A monitoring phase shall be established to capture vehicular emissions and define accurate polluter thresholds, the guidelines say. The monitoring phase will determine threshold limits for different vehicles, different emission norms and different fuel types with a focus on vehicles of category M (passenger vehicles) and N (goods vehicles).