While extending the stay on the ban on plying of 10-year-old vehicles until May 25, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) pulled up the Centre and a team of scientists from IIT-Delhi, for submitting a report that was “not comprehensive” and lacked proper research.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the Ministry of Road Transport, quoted research papers published by IIT-Delhi, and said all vehicles older than 10 years contribute only a “negligible” amount to air pollution and argued that age can’t be considered the prime factor for Delhi’s air pollution.
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The Centre contended that it was in favour of banning diesel vehicles older than 15 years. The NGT asked the Delhi government for its view on the issue. The green body also directed the Ministry of Road Transport to submit its views on capping total number of vehicles, scrapping of old vehicles, car pooling and incentives to those who want to dispose their old vehicles.
The ministry, while quoting the studies by IIT-Delhi, on Monday argued that surveying the age profile of cars in Delhi shows that “cars above 15 years contribute only 1 per cent and cars between 11-15 years old only 6 per cent of the traffic on the roads”. Thus, it said, “emissions calculated on the basis of official number of vehicles will overestimate the pollution load from traffic”.
But the NGT pulled up the Centre for submitting a report, it said, was without “basis” and “not comprehensive”.
The bench added that “base data has to be correct taking into consideration all kinds of vehicles moving or stationery. You have not associated anybody with the research and you have relied on old data”.
The Tribunal also said “merely because you are IIT you can’t always be right”. It also observed that “the whole IIT report is tilted towards proving that the ban order is bad”.
The NGT also noted that while the studies by IIT refers to private vehicles, it remains silent on air pollution caused by commercial vehicles, including trucks entering the city.
It noted that the study gave data on PM 2.5 levels at RK Puram and found that on Sunday, or other holidays, PM 2.5 levels remained high despite it being a holiday.
The NGT bench asked IIT’s explanation for this and asked, “Why are the levels high? Is it because trucks and commercial vehicles are plying at night?”
When the Centre told the NGT that it was in favour of banning all diesel vehicles older than 15 years, reiterating the earlier order by Supreme Court on the issue, the bench responded, “At least you agree something should be banned”.
“The Supreme Court orders are kept in the almirah for archive purposes. Supreme Court had thought of this ban years ago but the government opposed it,” the bench said.
The ministry also contended that in order to maintain “stricter emission norms” in NCR, 10-year-old private diesel vehicles, including BS -IV compliant vehicles” and diesel transport vehicles, should obtain PUC after every six months.
The Ministry had also suggested that the state transport departments of Delhi and NCR should check the authenticity through scientific random sampling process, with a large sample size to reduce errors and check the authenticity of issued PUC certificates.