There was a need to look into restricting the use of non-CNG private vehicles during high pollution episodes in the National Capital Region, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority said in a letter to the Central Pollution Control Board on Wednesday.
In his letter to CPCB member secretary and chair of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) task force Prashant Gargava, EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal asked the task force to deliberate on the suggestion. While emergency measures to reduce emissions from construction, trucks and other sources have been taken this month when pollution levels spiked, action on private vehicles has not.
Recognising that efforts to boost public transport were lacking, Mr. Lal wrote, “The question then if the actions on these crucial measures like public transport are inadequate, should we also not include emergency measures to restrict private vehicles on the days when pollution episodes peak and in particular when there is a prolonged period of high air pollution?”
He wrote that SAFAR report revealed that vehicles contributed 40% of the total emission load in Delhi and about 30% in the region.
“Even after removing trucks and other diesel commercial vehicles, which are the highest segment of this pollution load, the remaining vehicles add up to substantial load, particularly private diesel vehicles which contribute substantially to both NOx and PM emissions,” the letter stated.
Mr. Lal added that other cities that have emergency plans similar to the GRAP, like Paris and Beijing, include restrictions on private vehicles. He said that the Supreme Court had ordered the use of stickers to identify vehicles by the fuel type, but the government had not implemented this.
“In this situation, the only option is to look at either a complete ban on all private vehicles [without the identification of petrol or diesel], other than CNG and/or restriction on plying by number plate [odd-even]. However, please note that odd-even scheme, as practised in other cities for similar pollution abatement, is done for extended hours and includes all private vehicles,” he wrote.
In Delhi, when the State government had implemented odd-even, it had exempted two-wheelers and women-driven cars. When the GRAP was notified in 2017, odd-even was included as one of the emergency measures.