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NGT’s order to ban 10-years old diesel vehicles in Delhi is working, but still not enough

To counter alarming rise in vehicular pollution in Delhi, National Green Tribunal had rebuked the government for their failure to plan and implement any measures against it. NGT had ordered that no diesel vehicle over 10 year old shall ply on roads. It has started showing its effects.

The sales of diesel cars have touched five-year low.

The sales are down by 33% percent. In 2012-13, diesel vehicles constituted 47% of total passenger vehicles. So, this is good news for Delhi that people are now compelled to prefer petrol vehicles.

Not just the ban, but narrowing gap between diesel and petrol prices is also made it almost the same deal to buy a petrol car. Moreover, the lifespan of diesel vehicles is now limited to only 10-years after NGT’s orders. It has gone long way to discourage diesel customers.

Delhi air pollution

According to a report in the Economic Times:

Customers no longer find diesel attractive. Earlier, saving made by customer due to cheaper diesel justified the investment of buying a pricier car. But deregulation of diesel price has reduced the price gap between petrol and diesel. For example, at the peak of ‘dieselisation’ for a popular model like Maruti Swift, petrol: diesel sales ratio was as skewed as 30:70, which now has come down to 50:50.

That means now sales of diesel and patrol vehicles are equal.

Due to sharp decline in the demand of diesel vehicles car makers like Maruti Suzuki has already scrapped its second diesel engine plant in Gurgaon. It also closed sourcing powertrains from Fiat, Italian carmaker.

Other car makers like Hyundai, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda and General Motors have also boosted their petrol vehicle production.

In an interview to Huffington Post, Vivek Chattopadhyay, Senior Campaign Program Manager, Centre for Science and Environment, said:

We need to shift to a fixed emission standard, so that polluting diesel vehicles are fitted with particulate filters to bring them within norms.

He also added:

The pricing of diesel is still distorted because of a tax structure that favours diesel truck owners and agriculture. Farmers using diesel for cheap are a big vote bank and politicians have been wary of letting the price rise to the real market level.

What had happened to Beijing was terrible. A thick layer of smog had covered it and the government had to declare emergency measures to counter the emission rate. China took stringent measures and is successfully heading towards reduction in air pollutants. However, India has not learned from it.

air pollution

That’s why India’s capital Delhi was ranked as number one in the list of most polluted cities in the world. Delhi replaced China. With 180 million vehicles on road, dependence on coal for electricity and other industrial and domestic resources trapped Delhi in its present condition.

The NGT had to order a ban on diesel vehicles with a lifespan over 10-years. The diesel vehicles were specifically targeted as fine particulate emitted from diesel exhaust were declared most hazardous to health by WHO in 2012. In India, air pollution is the six biggest killers and a higher percent of people suffer from respiratory diseases, cancer, skin diseases, and pose high risk to children and elders.

More stringent orders were passed by the NGT in case of Rohtang-Pass case in Himachal Pradesh. After a rise in melting rate of glaciers in Rohtang-Pass, NGT not only banned plying of old diesel vehicles, but also restricted the number of vehicles allowed to visit Rohtang to 1000 ( 400 diesel and 600 petrol). A heavy cess was also imposed on vehicles seeking pass to Rohtang.

Same fate is waiting for other Indian cities because Indian people and government are unaware of actual catastrophe that awaits the world. Not just environmental degradation, but health risks would go beyond manageable limits. In an country like India, it’ll lead to rise in health budget to counter health hazards due to degrading quality of breathable air.

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