Monday, 30th October 2017

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SC notice to Centre on car pollution

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  • Published 29.11.14

New Delhi, Nov. 28: The Supreme Court today issued a notice to the Union government to enforce improved emissions standards for vehicles across India after a non-government organisation carried an air pollution monitoring instrument inside the courtroom and found pollution levels exceeding safe limits.

During the hearing of an ongoing PIL on air pollution this afternoon, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) showed that the level of particulate matter (PM) smaller than 2.5 microns and thus inhalable deep into the lungs was 250 micrograms per cubic metre, four-fold higher than the limit of 60.

A bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu asked the government’s counsel to implement Euro-4 emissions standards for vehicles across India by 2015, Euro-5 by 2017, and Euro-6 by 2020. If enforced, manufacturers will need to sell vehicles that meet these emissions norms.

Each higher standard reduces the levels of emissions such as PM, oxides of nitrogen and sulphur dioxide by an average of 40 per cent over the lower standard. The Euro-4 standards have currently been implemented only in Bangalore, Calcutta, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and 25 other cities.

“This is exactly what we’ve been asking for — India needs to leapfrog to Euro-6 standards by 2020 to reduce the air pollution and health impacts of explosive motorisation this country is experiencing,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, head of the CSE’s air pollution unit.

Data from the Central Pollution Control Board indicate that PM levels are steadily increasing across the country.

Roychowdhury said it is “shocking” that the government’s auto fuel policy committee had recommended a roadmap for emissions standards to the Union ministry of petroleum and natural gas nearly six months ago, but hasn’t been acted upon yet.

An analysis by the CSE suggests that while diesel price deregulation and the consequent lowering of price differences between petrol and diesel created an immediate dent in the rate of increase of dieselisation of the car segment, the low tax on diesel continues to lure consumers.