The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday directed traffic authorities in Delhi to de-register 10-year-old diesel vehicles with immediate effect, in a bid to address pollution levels in the Capital. The order comes as an earlier direction of the tribunal in 2014 to stop all 15-year-old vehicles (petrol and diesel) from plying in Delhi was not implemented. An estimated 400,000 diesel passenger vehicles of 10 years vintage could go off Delhi roads upon implementation of the latest order. Thousands of commercial vehicles will also be impacted.
To give effect to Monday’s order, the NGT asked the Regional Transport Office in Delhi to issue a public notice and furnish the traffic police with a list of such vehicles that are to be de-registered. It also directed the ministry of heavy industries to file an affidavit on the status of electric and hybrid vehicles in the country, as well as to submit proposals that could be offered to those who want to dispose of old vehicles. In this regard, the ministry is also supposed to write to the chief secretaries of all states within a week. During the last hearing, the tribunal had indicated the possibility of such a de-registration after it was told by the counsel for the government that around 3,000 offending vehicles were impounded last year alone.
The latest move by the NGT comes after the Delhi Police’s submissions regarding its inability to stop such vehicles from plying on Delhi roads as directed by the tribunal in its previous orders. In response to the Bench’s queries, the authorities attributed the failure to lack of specific laws on the topic due to which impounded vehicles have got relief from magisterial courts in the city.
Monday’s order is expected to have two major impacts on the automobile industry: in the short run, it could boost demand for new passenger and commercial vehicles in the city; it will also turn buyers further away from diesel vehicles. Besides, the order is expected to impact the used car market for diesel cars.
Carmakers, however, are not happy. “We would be in favour of the government taking a holistic view of the reasons behind pollution and address factors responsible for 98 per cent of pollution in Delhi. Vehicles contribute only two per cent to PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter) in the Capital. The owners of these diesel vehicles will be put to a lot of inconvenience even though their vehicles conformed to all regulations when they were purchased,” said R S Kalsi, executive director (marketing & sales) at Maruti Suzuki. Kalsi said the government was already working on a scrappage policy that would incentivise owners to surrender older vehicles and buy new, advanced non-polluting cars.
Rakesh Srivastava, senior vice-president (sales & marketing) at Hyundai Motor India, said the NGT order would create a greener and more sustainable environment in the Capital. “Authorities, though, will find it a challenge to implement the order with immediate effect,” he cautioned.
The electric vehicle manufacturers lobby group, Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV), welcomed the decision and even suggested doing the same with 10-year-old two-wheelers. “Time has come for firm steps like these in combating pollution levels. Something similar can be easily done in de-registering the polluting two-wheelers used in e-commerce and food deliveries business. The fossil fuel driven two-wheelers must be replaced by those powered by battery, which are environment friendly and also help the country stop its growing carbon footprints,” said Sohinder Gill, director (corporate affairs), at SMEV.
NGT blocks 10-year-old diesel vehicles in Delhi In December last year, the Supreme Court banned the sale of diesel vehicles above 2,000 cc in the National Capital Region. Regulatory uncertainties and a narrowing price gap between petrol and diesel are already driving buyers away from purchasing diesel cars. According to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers data, the share of diesel variants in new car sales fell to a low of 26 per cent in May, against 52 per cent four years earlier.
Delhi is the sixth largest market for passenger vehicles. The total number of cars registered in Delhi stood at 2.6 million as of March 2015. It is estimated one of every three passenger vehicles sold in Delhi is diesel-driven. Manufacturers are already saddled with excess diesel engine manufacturing capacity, as there is a clear shift towards petrol vehicles at a national level. Maruti Suzuki, Honda and Hyundai invested in diesel engine capacities in the past four years, when the demand for diesel cars was high.
The NGT has time and again slammed the Delhi government over incidents of waste burning and dust pollution in the national Capital. It has asked the Delhi government and other authorities to create awareness about air pollution caused by vehicular emissions and burning of municipal solid waste. It has also asked the functionaries concerned to issue advertisements along the lines of the odd-even scheme to address this problem.
Nov: NGT bans 15-year-old diesel and petrol vehicles (cars, two-wheelers, light and heavy commercial vehicles) in Delhi
Apr: Supreme Court upholds the 15-year-old NGT ban
Dec: NGT bans registration of diesel vehicles in Delhi through an interim order
SC bans registration of diesel vehicles, with an engine capacity of 2,000 cc and above in NCR, NGT’s interim order lapses
Jul: SC reserves order in petition against registration of 2,000 cc diesel vehicles
Jul 18: NGT orders de-registration of all 10-year-old diesel vehicles in Delhi