‘Find viable means to cut down vehicular pollution’


NGT tells government that more needs to be done to safeguard environment

With air pollution choking Delhi, making it one of the most polluted cities in the world, the National Green Tribunal on Monday asked the Ministry of Road Transport and the Finance Ministry to come up with practical solutions to cut down vehicular pollution in Delhi and other cities.

“We want the finance department and the road transport authority to decide and come forward with solutions,” said a Bench headed by Justice P. Jyothimani.

“Think about educating people,” the Bench said during the hearing of a petition filed by Dr. Sanjay Kulshresthra, a paediatrician from Agra seeking a check on vehicular pollution.

It made the remark after viewing a power point presentation made by Dr. Kulshresthra highlighting how vehicular pollution was eating away billion of life years and playing havoc on health of people across the country in general and those in metropolitan cities in particular.

Officials from the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health were also present during the PPT.

Dr. Kulshresthra told the Bench that getting a pollution under control certificate is an easy job in Delhi where people can just walk into the centres and get a certificate without even taking their vehicle with them.

At this the bench remarked that PUC is not very successful and cited the example of the U.S. where a vehicle is checked for pollution even when it is taken for servicing.

Phasing out old private vehicles?

When the petitioner suggested phasing out of old private vehicles to check pollution and also decongest the roads, the Bench found it to be economically not viable in India. It noted that the age limit for commercial vehicles is fixed at 15 years after which they have to undergo complete testing.

“We have to think of practical solutions. Phasing out private vehicles after 15 years is not practical as many people buy cars after saving their hard earned money and the car must be in good condition. So why phase out such cars after 15 years?”

Dr. Kulshresthra told the Bench that under Section 59 of the Motor Vehicles Act, Centre can fix the life of a vehicle in different categories with regard to public safety, convenience among others.

Adopting China or Singapore model

The petitioner highlighted that while every year 25 lakh cars are sold in India, total tax payers in the country have increased by only 18 lakh over the past seven years since 2006 (from 3.19 crore to 3.37 crore). He said the increase in number of cars is not reflected in the tax figure.

He prayed that furnishing PAN card and copy of last income tax return filed be made mandatory while purchasing a vehicle as many people who buy multiple cars are not even tax payers and go about spending money on vehicles choking the roads.

He also suggested removing or restricting tax benefits on cars for professionals and that vehicle be registered only in the city mentioned in the IT return besides imposing additional tax on fuel-inefficient cars.

The Bench asked the Finance Ministry to consider the suggestions.

Dr. Kulshresthra also cited the example of China where 60 lakh cars sold before 2005 were removed from the roads and diesel cars were banned from the city.

He said India could learn from the Singapore model where a vehicle quota system is in place.

The petitioner also highlighted how a majority of population in India goes for luxury features and safety features but hardly anyone ever checks the environment-friendly features before buying a vehicle.

“We are a nation obsessed with how much average a vehicle has,” he said and the Bench agreed that people are more concerned about fuel efficiency.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 3:17:48 AM |

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