The National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to finalise the emission standards for diesel locomotives within two months. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar passed the order after the counsel for the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) refuted its own earlier submission that the emission norms, prepared by it, have been sent to the MoEF for approval. The lawyer appearing for CPCB told the tribunal that the statement made by him on May 22 was not correct and the facts were not brought to the notice of the tribunal.
The CPCB counsel said the emission standards for diesel locomotives was still to be finalised and they would send to the MoEF within four weeks. The submission came in the wake of the green panel’s direction to set standards in this regard and ensure that the railway locomotive engines don’t cause pollution. “MoEF should finalise the same within four weeks thereafter. We make it clear that in the event of default we would be compelled to pass orders while imposing cost upon the defaulting departments,” the bench, also comprising Expert Member Bikram Singh Sajwan, said and fixed the matter for hearing on July 25.
The CPCB’s interim report, titled “Exhaust Emission Benchmarks for Diesel Locomotives on Indian Railways”, aims to fix standards and protocols for the sector to achieve the targets submitted by India under the Paris climate change agreement. According to the report, the contribution of emissions from the transport sector on the whole has risen 3.5 times since 1990 to stand at 250 million tonne carbon dioxide, or 13.5 per cent of the total emissions in 2013.
The Railways contributed 9.7 per cent of this figure (24.7 million tonne). Globally, however, only 3.5 per cent of the emissions from the transport sector are attributed to the rail sector, CPCB’s report said.
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“The changes in the energy sources allowed for a reduction of the share of rail transport carbon dioxide emissions from 24 per cent in 1990 to less than 10 per cent in 2013, while rail activity doubled in the same period,” the draft report by CPCB said. Earlier, the tribunal had directed MoEF to hold a meeting with the CPCB and Railways and submit a report on emission standards for diesel locomotive within six weeks.
However, when the matter came up for hearing, the Environment Ministry sought more time, saying “the standards are yet to be fixed and one year’s time is required for completion”. The Railways had earlier submitted international standards for emissions from diesel locomotive railway engines and filed a data sheet indicating the emissions from 30 railway engines. According to the data sheet, the emission levels in the tested 30 railway engines were much above international standards. The directions came during the hearing a petition filed by Dwarka resident S K Goyal about harmful emissions from diesel locomotives.