Published: Sunday 30 September 2001


India Today, August 20, 2001: "Though data on emission from various fuels vary widely, depending on the sources, the ultra low sulphur diesel (ulsd , also called Euro III) compares reasonably well with cng when fitted with a special filtering device. cng , as compared to ulsd , to be brought in by 2004-5 emits more carbon oxide, less nitrogen oxide and marginally higher particulate matter." (The article cites a chart from a teri report in which ulsd has been defined as 0.05 per cent sulphur diesel).

Fact: Euro III diesel is not ulsd . It is 350 ppm sulphur diesel which cannot take a filtering device. 0.05 per cent sulphur diesel is not ulsd either. It is 500 ppm diesel which also cannot take a filtering device and is already being sold in Delhi. Interestingly, India Today , in its earlier report of April 16, 2001, says, " ulsd is diesel that has a sulphur content of just 0.005 per cent (or 50 ppm)." But in just four months it forgot its earlier numbers.

l Hindustan Times , August 10, 2001 (editorial): " is painfully clear that while the Supreme Court had the right instinct about making Delhi's air clean, it did not seriously look at the availability of cng ... it obliged the city to switch to a single fuel mode -- a risky proposition -- at a time when ulsd , which is low on pollution as cng , was about to enter the market."

Fact: ulsd has not entered the market and is unlikely to enter in the near future. The editor is confused with lsd . We hope the paper knows the difference between lsd and ulsd .

l Hindustan Times, August 31, 2001: " cng vehicular emissions release micro-pollutants, can cause cancer/lung infections. Diesel vehicles emit macropollutants, mainly cause asthma." The paper prominently displayed this information but gave no source. No attempt was made to cross-check this information.

Fact: Diesel, petrol and cng emissions, all have particles, mainly microparticles. Only diesel particles are listed as carcinogenic by organisations like the California Air Resources Board and World Health Organisation. No agency in the world has listed petrol or cng particles as carcinogenic. This is because diesel particles are coated by the highly carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (pahs). One pah , benzopyrene, is what gives cigarette smoke its carcinogenicity. cng engines do produce microparticles but far less than diesel. cng by itself does not produce microparticles. They are produced because of the lubricants introduced into the dry gas to run the engine properly. Proper control of lubricants greatly reduces cng particles. On the other hand, as the diesel engine is improved, studies have confirmed that they produce more microparticles unless you put a particulate trap on it, which then needs ulsd.

Principals without principles
Confusion reigns in Delhi's schools, especially in the minds of their principals. Children who had been brandishing placards to demand their right to clean air and speedy implementation of the cng order in Delhi a while ago, are now hoisting placards blaming cng for the mess in their lives. They even made a photogenic protest in front of the Supreme Court. Of course, cng critic Madan Lal Khurana was present. Even some school principals, who are supposed to ensure that our children are taught to respect the environment, argue that cng is not good.

The cng bathwater is indeed bad. But should you throw the cng baby out with it? One problem is cost. cng is too expensive. They are not safe also, they say. The criticism from rich private schools is worse because they have to invest in cng buses. Municipal schools are served by dtc . Getting cng is, of course, a very serious problem. "Our drivers spend more time in cng queues than they spend behind the wheel of the buses," says S Kumar of Blue Bells School. Jyoti Bose of Springdales says, "One bus takes about 27 hours to return with a full tank. The driver and conductor are not able to sleep for days on end. Naturally, it's unsafe to expect the groggy driver to do the morning trip." But V K Williams, principal of Mount Carmel School, told a public debate, "The idea of restricting the choice of the fuel to only cng is ridiculous. The Supreme Court has also inexplicably closed its ears to the words of wisdom on the fuel option from quarters other than the Bhure Lal Committee." Representatives of school managements and principals on August 8, 2001 met Delhi transport secretary to demand at least dedicated time slots for refuelling cng school buses. So there are solutions?

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