May 4, 2017 4:27:28 am
While cities like London are gearing up to impose a vehicle pollution charge on older and more polluting vehicles later this year, India’s capital is still grappling with a Pollution Under Control (PUC) programme that is woefully ill-equipped to even test diesel vehicles for emissions and particulate matter.
Britain’s capital is even considering introducing an ‘ultra low emission’ zone from April 2019, which will see some drivers pay as much as GBP 24. Further, a ‘toxin tax’ on diesel vehicles is being considered in different cities across the United Kingdom.
Several reports have highlighted that diesel vehicles are far more polluting than petrol variants and Delhi is directly impacted by the number of diesel trucks that pass through the city at night.
A report by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has raised the concern that the “current PUC testing regime for diesel vehicles does not take into account emissions of Sox, Nox and PM” and recommended that the “existing PUC system will need to be overhauled for testing of these pollutants”.
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Further, among those vehicles that turn up for tests, only 1.68 per cent of diesel vehicles fail the smoke density test, the report stated. “The time it takes to test diesel vehicles is as much as 10-15 minutes compared to petrol vehicles, which takes 2-3 minutes,” an EPCA member told The Indian Express. “There is more scope for cheating by PUC operators when it comes to diesel vehicles.”
However, the member pointed out that the current smoke density test itself is “ineffectual”. Referring to the scientific evidence from global experience, the report states that the smoke density test is not a good proxy for particulate emissions from diesel vehicles. “Less smoke does not mean less particulate emissions. With engine upgrades, engine smoke disappears and high particulate emissions remain invisible,” the report states.
The EPCA has recommended to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to set up advanced inspection centres to measure key pollutants. Specifically, the report states that the smoke density test is very lax for the pre-Bharat Stage IV diesel vehicles.
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