- Not only India but also several advanced and rich countries are battling vehicle pollution alongside other pollutants over the last decade or so. The matter at hand has received enough attention from the worried environmentalists is stating the obvious. Environmental concerns leading to drastic climate changes have played havoc with the weather patterns around the world leading to destructions of immense magnitude. As a consequence, erratic and unseasonal rains are becoming a norm rather than an exception completely altering the centuries-old natural ecological system in a big way.
- Recognizing the need to address the growing concerns as regards safeguarding of the environment, several countries are earnestly progressing with measures that might seem appropriate to bizarre. The Indian Government too is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to join hands with the global community by chipping in with measures that have not failed to draw ire from the public in general. We all know how New Delhi is battling for years now during winters when the pollution levels reach unbearable levels resulting in a standstill of economic activities.
- Lopsided measures like using odd and even-numbered vehicles on alternative days, shutting down crucial infrastructure construction activities, and closing schools have proved to be mere optics bereft of effective means to address the concerns galore. As such, the core issue of residual burning by farmers continues to be ignored or brushed under the carpet for fear of antagonizing the farming community. You see, they happen to be a huge vote bank and hence, cannot be brought to book for irresponsibly breaking the Supreme Court guidelines. Against this backdrop, comes the news that beginning 2022, the Delhi government will de-register diesel vehicles that have completed 10 years.
- The announcement is to give effect to an old order of the National Green Tribunal that was reiterated over three years ago by the SC. Nonetheless, all is not lost for many vehicle owners who will be affected. Note that if the vehicle is not over 15 years old, they can get a no-objection certificate from Delhi and have it registered in a neighbouring state. And how does such a move will help improve Delhi’s air quality is anybody’s guess but serves to highlight the rabid inconsistencies in the system to prevent air pollution. It is not rocket science to comprehend as to the only thing that matters is tailpipe emission in the case of vehicular pollution and not the age of a vehicle. This should be the focus of the exercise to improve air quality complemented by a national approach as state boundaries are irrelevant to the problem.
- A policy to tackle air quality that targets anything other than tailpipe emission will lead to distortions in the market for used vehicles without realising the overarching goal. Mind you, India notified national vehicle scrapping policy recently relying on incentives to phase out old vehicles. GOI has said in Parliament that the policy’s aim includes taking unfit polluting vehicles off the road. Rather than get unfit and polluting vehicles off the road, the best way to do it is to focus on tailpipe emissions and make it mandatory for older vehicles to undergo periodic checks. Of course, in the absence of strict enforcement, none of these measures will work.