DASS SPEAK: Environmental Pollution:Knee-jerk action not the right approach

By Chittranjan Dass, Editor, SAARC Journal of Transport

No person, in his right senses, could dissent with the serious concerns of the learned National Green Tribunal over ever increasing level of air pollution in the Delhi NCR.

Simultaneously, it is just impossible, for any right thinking person, to agree with the Hon’ble Tribunal’s dictum of making age of diesel operated Trucks as synonymous with it causing pollution. This is further questionable as to how the numeral of ten has been arrived.  Why could it not be Twelve (12)  years or  for that matter eight (8) years ?

It is very pertinent to state here that just six months ago the Hon’ble NGT considered 15 years as the polluting cut-off age of vehicles.

Should the pleadings of the victim truck owners fail to convince about naivety of relating age of vehicles with their polluting potential then surely the age limit shall be reduced to FIVE (5) years after next six months, because even Ten (10) year old vehicles as well continue to emit smoke which would be polluting the ambient air.
But to wait till then, to prove the point, shall turn to be disastrous, not only for lakhs of small self-employed truck owners, across the country, BUT may lead to collapse of the very economy of the country.
In respect to making age as responsible for pollution :

i)      It deserves to be noted that OE manufacturers do not fix / declare working life of trucks NOR the Official Type Approving Agencies say so.
ii)    It is neither Engine, Chassis or the Body of the vehicles which pollute.
iii) Polluting agent is the fuel following its being burnt in the engine.
iv) For this reason the mandatory provisions of law is that the vehicle should, at all time, possess (a) the Certificate of Fitness and (b) Pollution Under Control (PUC) Certificate
These provisions have been mandated for each vehicle to adhere to and abide by.  How could then same be assumed as polluting and Ordered to go off-the road  merely based on the  AGE  of the vehicle?

None lesser than the Hon’ble Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Maj. General, Shri B. C. Khanduri, AVSM (Retd,) very succinctly went on record to emphasise that Age of vehicle has no relevance vis-à-vis pollution caused by the vehicle. For better appreciation the relevant abstracts of his statement is appended with this piece.

What is most surprising and inexplicable is the keeping of the true polluting factor concealed, i.e. DIESEL.

Could there be two opinions on the fact that POLLUTION is caused by the FUEL used by the vehicles ?  The poor truck owners have no option but to use the Diesel sold by the Oil Companies. Admittedly the quality of diesel sold in India today is far poorer than the quality being sold in Europe.

Kerosene which is sold at highly subsidized rates, is freely being mixed with diesel. This makes the matter worse still.

In this backdrop, the Age limit, even if reduced to five years, is not going to improve the matters. It is sheer exploiting the vulnerability of poor, patronless truck owners, without any regard to the perilous consequences for them, as well as others.

Nothing would be more unfair for the truck owners if the Ministry of Road Transport, as well could be persuaded to concede to the fallacy and add legal muscle to the National Green Tribunal’s stand THAT AGE OF
VEHICLE SHOULD  BE THE CRITERIA FOR DECLARING THE VEHICLE AS POLLUTING and thus deserving to be pulled away from the Highway.
For God’s sake the Commercial Vehicle Operators of the country should be given  recognition for their invaluable services they are rendering to the community rather than forcing them to agitate for their LEGITIMATE RIGHTS