It may not be the end of the road for private vehicles which are more than 15 years old. The government on Tuesday opposed a proposal to ban such vehicles across the country, saying this was just a “short cut” formula to control pollution.
In its affidavit in the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said: “At present, the ministry does not propose to mandate the age limit of private vehicles because this is a short-cut approach... the fitness testing of the vehicle will prove whether a vehicle has reached the end of its life or not.”
The ministry pointed out that this was the practice followed in the European countries and North America, where a fitness test is the yardstick for deciding whether a vehicle should be allowed to ply or not.
“The ministry, however, may consider 15 years as the period for end of life for transport and commercial vehicles,” said the affidavit, which has been filed in response to a PIL.
The PIL has been filed by activist M C Mehta and senior advocate Harish Salve appears as amicus curiae in the matter. On the last date of hearing, the court had sought a reply from the concerned ministries on the measures taken to curb vehicular pollution.
The ministry proposed that fitness tests for private vehicles should be conducted more often — once in five years for new vehicles and once in two-three years after the vehicles cross the 15-year mark. The current norms state that new vehicles should be tested once in 15 years, and vehicles older than 15 years must be tested once in five years.
The ministry also pointed out the need to set up more authorised test stations, on the lines of the developed countries.
According to the affidavit, the permanent solution lies in upgrading the emission norms, not in fixing an age limit for vehicles. “Upgrading the Bharat Stage from III to IV and IV to V... is the permanent solution for controlling pollution due to exhaust gases from vehicles. This is dependent upon the fallibility of automobile fuels,” it said.
Bharat Stage emission standards are norms instituted by the government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles.
The ministry said only a comprehensive study could establish the actual share of vehicular pollution in degrading air quality.
The affidavit said the National Green Tribunal was already seized of a similar matter relating to Delhi. In its November 26 order, the tribunal had banned all vehicles which are more than 15 years old from plying on Delhi’s roads.
During the last hearing, Salve had argued that the implementation of strict measures to control vehicular pollution must begin from the national capital.