Days after the National Green Tribunal order for a cleaner Delhi, Haryana has come up with a measure aimed at curbing vehicle pollution in its districts within the National Capital Region. These 11 districts will register only vehicles with BS-IV engines, a decision that will be implemented over the next three months. BS-IV engines are designed for low emission.
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar made the announcement at a meeting of the environment ministers of Delhi, Haryana and UP who discussed measures against pollution in the NCR. He said other states should emulate Haryana’s move.
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Steps planned by other NCR states include an automatic system of recognising number plates to monitor the number of non-destined trucks entering Delhi, and conversion of 18 coal-based power plants in UP to gas-based.
“Pollution cannot be solved by a switch-off mechanism. We do not know how to magically solve this, and this is a problem that is not specific to Delhi; all growing areas in India and the world have this problem,” Javadekar said. “A very good step announced by Haryana, which I think other states should also learn from, is that only BS IV vehicles will be registered in 11 districts of Haryana which come in the NCR and have a significant role in Delhi’s air.”
Transport association members, however, said the decision was impractical. Said Bhim Wadhwa, president of All India Motor Transport Congress, “What is the point of making BS-IV engines mandatory when they cannot provide us BS-IV fuel? Vehicle owners who have invested extra to buy BS-IV vehicles are forced to use BS-III fuel because you don’t get the superior fuel just outside Delhi. This ends up damaging their engines in the long run.”
Javadekar said Haryana has also floated tenders for the Western Expressway’s Manesar-Palwal leg, which will be completed in nine months, while the Kundli-Manesar leg will be “completed in due course”. The expressway, which was meant to be completed by 2009, is meant for outbound trucks so they need not enter Delhi.
About Delhi’s plan for an automatic number plate recognition system on the capital’s borders, Javadekar said, “This will give us a proper picture of how many trucks that are not delivering anything in Delhi are coming here.”
The Delhi government has between February 18 and March 12 issued 34,000 challans to vehicles for violating pollution norms, and another 48,000 challans for lane discipline. “When vehicles don’t follow lane discipline it leads to traffic congestion, which adds to pollution,” Javadekar explained. On the NTPC power plant in Badarpur, Javadekar said some sections would be retrofitted in the next 3-4 months which will reduce air pollution levels to a third of current levels.
The Uttar Pradesh government will convert the 18 plants to gas-based in the next three months, Javadekar said.
“The states will also collectively increase air quality monitoring stations in the NCR region. Haryana will provide two more stations in Sonepat and Panipat to add to existing stations in Gurgaon, Rohtak and Faridabad. In UP, three stations will be added in Ghaziabad and Noida,” the minister said.
Environment officials said all states had been instructed to take measures to minimise pollution from stubble burning. “For the first time, we have registered four FIRs in Haryana against stubble burning. This is an important first step,” Javadekar said.
The Rajasthan government has set up an action plan to check industrial fuel quality in Bhiwadi which has emerged as a poor-air-quality region for NCR. “They will be taking strict measures under the Air Act. The Rajasthan government will also be taking measures to control construction and demolition (C&D) waste in view of the large construction in the area,” Javadekar said.