· Landmark decision from the Chief Justice bench of the Supreme Court stops registration of luxury diesel cars and SUVs in the NCR; bars entry of pre-Euro III trucks into Delhi; doubles the environment compensation charge on all trucks entering Delhi; and mandates all taxis in NCR to convert to CNG. It has also asked for stringent action on trash burning and road dust.
· With these orders Delhi takes a leap to cut down toxic diesel emissions from trucks and cars. Diesel vehicles contribute hugely to particulate matter and nitrogen oxides that are rising in Delhi. Their emissions are also branded as human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the WHO for strong link with lung cancer.
· New study by IIT Kanpur on air pollution sources in Delhi commissioned by Delhi government and discussed in the Supreme Court yesterday has shown that diesel cars that are a quarter of all cars in the city, are responsible for 60-70 per cent of PM2.5 from vehicular sources in different parts of Delhi.
· The longer term solutions including emissions standards for vehicles, action on power plants and public transport strategies are scheduled for the next round of hearing.
New Delhi, December 16, 2015: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) welcomes the landmark judgment from the Chief Justice bench of the Supreme Court of India that has stopped registration of all luxury diesel cars and SUVs with engine size of 2,000 cc in the entire national capital region of Delhi until March 2016; doubled environment compensation charge on all trucks entering Delhi; barred entry of pre-2005 trucks; and mandated all taxis in the NCR to run on CNG.
The state governments have also been directed to put in place stringent measures to cut pollution from trash burning and road dust. These urgent measures are needed to address the public health emergency in the city while longer term solutions including emissions standards road map for vehicles, action on power plants and public transport strategies are on the table for continued action and effective impacts.
Says Sunita Narain, CSE’s director general: “These steps are expected to catalyse longer term solutions to clean up the air. This winter, Delhi has already experienced rapid increase in pollution – PM2.5 levels have remained three to four times the standards and on smoggy days, the level can go up to six to seven times the standards. The Chief Justice bench has taken strong notice of the evidences of health impacts which indicate that the lung of every third child is impaired.”
Action on diesel emissions from trucks and cars is a crucial step forward: The most recent study of IIT Kanpur on sources of air pollution in Delhi, submitted by Amicus Curiae Harish Salve, has given the clinching evidence on the contribution of diesel cars to PM2.5 in Delhi. It shows that diesel cars contribute at least 60-70 per cent of PM2.5 from vehicles in different parts of Delhi. This shows that overall, vehicles are the second largest polluter for both particulates and NOx. By barring the luxury diesel segment, the Supreme Court has established a critical principle that diesel taxed low for poor farmers and freight cannot by misutilised by the rich car owners for luxury consumption and add to pollution.
Anumita Roychowdhury, CSE’s executive director-research and advocacy and head of its sustainable urbanization and air pollution control team: “Dieselisation adds to the burden of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and ozone — the key pollutants of concern in the city. The current emissions standards in India legally allow diesel cars to emit more particulate matter and nitrogen oxides – which are the most serious pollutants of concern in our city’s air – than petrol cars.” Diesel cars are legally allowed to emit three times more NOx than petrol cars. Particulate matter from petrol cars are so negligible that they are not regulated. But emissions factor of the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) shows that diesel cars emit five times more particulate matter and seven times more total air toxins compared to petrol cars.
Diesel emissions have also been classified by the WHO as a group I carcinogen for their strong link with lung cancer. The emission norms for both petrol and diesel cars begin to close gaps only at Euro VI level.
It is notable that while taking these urgent decisions the Chief Justice bench has also scheduled hearing for longer term solutions including leapfrogging emissions standards for vehicles to Euro VI while introducing the current emission standards in Delhi nation-wide immediately; action on power plants; and public transport strategy for Delhi and NCR.