The ban is now applicable to private as well as commercial vehicles, both heavy and light
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has banned all diesel vehicles older than 10 years from plying on Delhi's roads. The landmark judgement was delivered on Tuesday by a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar. The verdict cited examples from countries like Denmark, China, Brazil and Sri Lanka, which are gradually banning diesel vehicles to reduce air pollution.
“We may mention that a number of countries in the world are in the process or have prohibited diesel vehicles or are in the process of doing away with them by imposing very heavy taxes. We have already noticed that certain stringent measures need to be taken to ensure that residents of the area do not travel closer to ill-health with each breath they take,” the NGT bench said.
The tribunal had earlier requested the government to provide information about the exact number of diesel vehicles plying on the city's roads and their impact on the air quality by Tuesday, news reports say.
The ban now applies to private and commercial vehicles, both heavy and light. Currently, approximately 1,400 cars are added to Delhi's roads every day. Altogether, 468,489 diesel cars have been registered in Delhi between 2000 and 2015.
The tribunal has also given 20 hours to the Delhi government to ensure that all vehicles entering Delhi from Wednesday are now checked at the border for pollution, weight and age. Further, commissioners appointed by the tribunal will conduct surprise checks.
Best practices abroad
Many countries have already adopted a number of measures to control air pollution caused by diesel vehicles. In Brazil, such cars are not allowed at all because taxes are kept low for public transport. In China, less than 1 per cent of cars are diesel ones. Beijing has stopped the plying of diesel cars since 2003. Sri Lanka has imposed several times higher import duty on diesel cars which has reduced sales. Several European countries like Denmark and Germany have a higher tax for diesel as compared to petrol. Paris does not allow diesel cars when pollution levels increase like when there is smog. It has even announced a gradual phase-out of diesel cars by 2020 as part of its anti-pollution drive. The UK has vehicle-targeted incentives. In 1998-99, the country reduced vehicle excise duty for heavy-duty diesel vehicles with particulate filters and other technologies to cut down on pollution. Japan gives incentives to refineries for reducing sulphur content in diesel while Hong Kong gives tax differential (difference between tax on petrol and diesel cars) in favour of clean fuel.
What about emissions from new cars?
NGT's move to control Delhi’s air pollution is significant. However, at the current Bharat Stage emission standards that we follow, this will not control the harmful emissions from new or recently-bought diesel cars. In order to control pollution from new vehicles, we need to leapfrog to the Bharat Stage 6 norms by 2020 for cleaner fuel and technology that will enable us to use diesel particulate filters, says Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director of Delhi-based NGO, Centre for Science and Environment.
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