SC order on Delhi SUVs: Why auto bodies see no sense in the ban

The SC restriction does not affect vehicles run on diesel with an engine capacity of over 2000 cc.

Sulekha Nair December 17, 2015 07:36:29 IST
SC order on Delhi SUVs: Why auto bodies see no sense in the ban

The Supreme Court’s ruling restricting the new registration of all diesel SUVs and luxury cars with an engine capacity of over 2000 cc in NCR region has evoked strong reactions from industry experts and automobile dealers, who said this move was more of a knee-jerk reaction that would hardly help to solve the problem.

Consider this: The total number of registered vehicles in Delhi in 2015 was 8.8 million. Of this 35.1 percent are four-wheelers which run on mixed fuel — a large majority on petrol, according to data available from UrbanEmissions.Info. The number of Diesel vehicles and SUVs, on the other hand, constitute a relatively lesser number.

SC order on Delhi SUVs Why auto bodies see no sense in the ban

Courtesy: Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises

This would also mean that the pollution caused by the vehicles in the banned/restricted category is much lesser compared with the rest of the lot. Also, part of the severe pollution in Delhi emanates from other sources such as dust from construction activities and factories, Gulshan Ahuja, secretary general, Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (FADA), Delhi said. In this backdrop, a three-month window on a trial basis will 'neither help consumers, dealers or the issue of pollution’.

However, an IIT-led study along with other collaborators found that when a student travelled to and from IIT Delhi till India Gate in different modes of transport during rush hour, the student was exposed to 130-250 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 every month.

This exposure is considered phenomenally higher against the average of 150 µg/m3 of PM 2.5 levels seen in Delhi from 2012-2014 – which is itself 15 times higher than the World Health Organisation’s recommended annual average.

Particulate Matter (PM) refers to the thick, black smoke belching out of the exhaust pipes of vehicles. Vehicles, like cars and SUVs, produce particulates.

Indian emission standards
The SC restriction does not affect vehicles run on diesel with an engine capacity of over 2000 cc. Then, says Dr Sarath Guttikunda, Director of UrbanEmissions.Info and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Center for Climate Studies, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai, “If the goal is to cut emissions from diesel consuming vehicles, diesel itself can be made cleaner and better.”

Guttikunda said currently, few cities have access to Bharat IV fuel while a large part of the country has access to Bharat III. Bharat stage emission standards are instituted by the Indian government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles. The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Ministry of Environment and Forests and climate change.

Most of the trucks passing through and serving in Delhi are using Bharat III fuel. If national wide fuel quality is ramped up to Bharat V or higher, then we can have long-term benefits, said Guttikunda.

Vehicle biz affected
Ahuja said the SC restriction had affected the fraternity. “Our dealers are affected. Inventory is locked. Majority of dealers like Mercedez, Audi, Toyota and Mahindra have 90 percent vehicles that run on diesel. This will cause disruption in the industry,” he said.

Debi Goenka, environmentalist, felt that the government should instead have come out with norms that made it compulsory for vehicle manufacturers to use the latest technology available to filter out particulate matter in the vehicle. "This will force vehicle manufacturers to follow the norms as the vehicle would not get registered otherwise."

(Data support from Kishor Kadam)

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