The Supreme Court order to stop registration of all luxury diesel cars and Sport Utility Vehicles with 2,000 cc engine and above until March 2016 is a leap forward to cut down on toxic emissions, the Centre for Science and Environment said on Wednesday.
Hailing the judgment as a “landmark decision”, the public interest research and advocacy organisation said the decision was a long-term solution to clean the city’s air.
The Supreme Court doubled the environment compensation charge on all trucks entering Delhi, barred entry of pre-2005 trucks, and mandated all taxis in the Delhi National Capital Region to run on less polluting Compressed Natural Gas.
The state governments have been directed to put in place stringent measures to cut pollution from trash burning and road dust.
“These steps are expected to catalyse long-term solutions to clean up air. This winter, Delhi has already experienced rapid increase in pollution – PM2.5 levels have remained three to four times the standard norms. On smoggy days, the level can go up to six to seven times the standard norm,” said CSE director general Sunita Narain.
The Chief Justice’s bench has taken strong notice of the evidence of health impacts that indicate that the lungs of every third child is impaired, she added.
The most recent study of IIT-Kanpur on air pollution in Delhi has given clinching evidence on contribution of diesel cars to Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5 – those air particulates with diametre of 2.5 microns or less causing pollution) in Delhi, the CSE said.
The study shows that diesel cars contribute at least 60-70 per cent of PM2.5 from vehicles in different parts of Delhi.
By barring the luxury diesel vehicle segment, the Supreme Court “has established a critical principle that diesel taxed low for poor farmers and freight cannot by misutilised by the rich car owners for luxury consumption and add to pollution,” it added.
Anumita Roychowdhury, CSE’s executive director added: “The current emissions standards in India legally allow diesel cars to emit more particulate matter and nitrogen oxides – which are the most serious pollutants of concern in our city’s air – than petrol cars.”
Emissions factor of the Automotive Research Association of India shows that diesel cars emit five times more particulate matter and seven times more total air toxins compared to petrol cars, the CSE said.
Diesel emissions have also been classified by the WHO as a Group I carcinogen for their strong link with lung cancer, it added.
Air pollution, which is one of the top ten killers in the world and fifth leading cause of death in India, is responsible for about 10,000 to 30,000 deaths annually in Delhi, a report by the CSE said on Tuesday.