A recent move to check vehicular pollution in Delhi hasn't reduced the fumes

By Rajat Banerji
Published: Friday 30 June 1995

-- (Credit: Arvind Yadav /CSE)The much publicised recent vehicular pollution control drive, which created much more than a stir in the Capital, has come heavily against vehicle owners without conclusively proving any positive gain.

The drive has ignored the oil and vehicle producing companies, who could be credited with supplying the paying public ineffecient and outdated vehicles and poor quality fuel. Although seen as an attempt to tackle the problem at the users end, the drive, suspended from June 1-15, would seem to have caught the wrong end of the stick.

"This drive, which has cost the Government crores of rupees, will not make even 1 per cent difference to the quality of the air. Instead, we should have concentrated on reducing the number of diversions, thereby reducing the distance that have to be travelled to reach a destination, and also re-do traffic patterns with lesser signals and stops, as far as traffic is concerned," says a Central Pollution Control Board (cpcb) official.

According to him, the vehicular emissions in Delhi stood at 1,050 metric tonnes of pollutants per day, with 651.01 mt of carbon monoxide, 249.57 mt of hydrocarbons, 10.30 mt of suspended particulate matter, 8.96 mt of sulphur dioxide, and 126.46 mt of oxides of nitrogen.

The punitive measures of the drive, which began on May 22, triggered off a near panic reaction from vehicle owners, with lines of cars -- 2 and 3-wheelers -- and heavy vehicles causing traffic jams, as they waited for the pollution check.

cpcb officials add that there was no standardisation for the testing machines. "It is neccessary to calibrate the machines from time to time, to maintain its efficacy. This measure is certainly not being followed by the petrol bunk owners for whom, the exercise offers economic oppurtunities."

Commissioner, State Transport Authority, Kiran Dhingra, states that this drive came about after a high powered committee of the Union ministry of environment and forests had, in the latter half of '94, "recommended the application of rules from the New Motor Vehicles Act, which have been in effect since March 1990."

A director at the ministry of environment and forests states that vehicle producing companies had been given time till April '96, to change production techniques and phase out 2-stroke engines by then, or else face closure. "New standards of quality fuel are also to be adhered to by the oil companies by October-November '95. If implemented properly, the on-going drive should reduce the emission levels by over 30 per cent," he says. All this only gives the impresssion that the government is targeting the Davids, while the Goliaths have been given enough time to get their act together.

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