Bans re-registration if over 10 years old also
After the odd-even formula for vehicles devised by the Delhi government to check pollution in the capital, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday came down heavily on both the state and the central governments while banning the sale of new diesel vehicles and as well re-registration of more than 10-year-old vehicles running on the fuel till the next date of hearing, January 6. It also directed the central and the state governments not to buy any diesel vehicles for their use.
The tribunal’s interim ban on sale and resale of diesel vehicle came as counsels of both the Centre and the state sought more time to present their policy packages to check pollution in the city. It directed all public authorities, corporations, Delhi Development Authority, police and other public departments to prepare and submit an action plan for phasing out diesel vehicles, particularly trucks being used by all these bodies, by the next date of hearing.
“As an interim measure, till next date of posting subject to hearing of all the concerned parties, we direct that diesel vehicles of more than 10 years of age as already directed, as well as new diesel vehicle would not be registered in NCT, Delhi. We also direct the government to take a conscientious decision with regard to not buying any diesel vehicle, whether by the Centre or states,” a bench headed NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar said.
While disallowing government departments from buying diesel vehicles will not have much of an impact on the auto industry as their share forms only a minuscule percentage of their total sales in the city, any long-term restriction on the sale of diesel cars would hit them hard. For instance, Delhi accounted for around 7% of the overall sales of 1.1 million vehicles by the country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki in FY15. Of this, the share of diesel vehicles was roughly 35%.
On a pan-India basis, around 2.6 million passenger vehicles were sold in FY15, with diesel’s share at 48%.
Auto industry executives said that the subsidised diesel policy had at at one point of time raised the share of diesel vehicles to as high as 60%. This was due to the huge variation between the price of diesel and petrol — Rs 27 in 2011 — and had led automakers switch to producing more diesel cars.
“We definitely do not agree with the NGT order at all. This is not based on any scientific fact or study,” Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) director general Vishnu Mathur said. “What was the hurry? Whatever we have seen in the study (IIT Kanpur), only 2.5% of pollution is accounted by cars, both petrol and diesel cars. So to take such a drastic measure to address 2.5% of pollution in Delhi is a ridiculous step and it is not going to help reduce pollution in Delhi,” Mathur added.
The matter relating to pollution in the city and ban or some kind of regulation on diesel vehicles will also come up for hearing in the Supreme Court on Tuesday when it will consider suggestions from senior counsel Harish Salve, appointed to assist it in environment matters, to control private diesel cars that spread invisible air pollution in the capital.
“This is a very serious issue and we are earning a bad name in the world for Delhi being the most polluted city,” a bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and justice R Banumathi had said on Thursday.
Salve’s suggestion is that diesel-run trucks be banned for six weeks to see whether it makes a “perceptible” change in the already bad air quality. He had told the bench that diesel vehicles should be banned or there should be a limitation on the registration of diesel cars in Delhi as they are more polluting. He also said that the government should disincentivise diesel cars by scrapping subsidies on diesel.
On Friday, the Delhi government told the NGT that in all the regional transport offices in the national capital, around 1,300 to 1,400 vehicles are being registered every day including heavy and light vehicles and two-wheelers.
The tribunal noted that a reasonably good number of vehicles are also being registered at Gurgaon, Bahadurgarh, Ghaziabad and Noida which “are over and above the vehicles registered in Delhi”.