The National Green Tribunal’s recent decision to ban diesel-run vehicles, older than 10 years with immediate effect in Delhi seems like a noble effort but without vision. NGT wants to fight the pollution monster in the National Capital and it believes by keeping off decade-old diesel vehicles off Delhi’s road we will have greener air to breathe.
If the NGT has its way, then diesel car owners like me will face a heavy blow. The ban will mean I can’t drive my Swift Dezire Diesel car in Delhi’s roads anymore. The traffic police won’t listen to me that I have maintained my car well, and that it emits less smoke than the 3-year-old tempo that has been burning our lungs with its thick cloud of smoke. While the “newer” transport vehicles will continue to ply on the road, I will have to sell off my loved car just because someone sitting with the green body decided to club everything and ban diesel in just one sweep.
But that’s not all. The ban will hike prices of petrol cars in Delhi, going by the simple demand-supply rule. It means I will also have to buy a petrol car, which will dig a bigger hole in my pocket. The decision already has made the likes of me wary. Supposedly I decide to install a CNG engine to retain my car, the cost will vary from Rs 30,000-50,000. Either ways, I will end up losing a lot of money to tailor my need according to the wish of NGT. Delhi-NCR accounts for nearly 18% of India’s overall cars sales and is also the largest used car market. Diesel cars comprises of one-third of the sales.
For NGT, it’s an easy thing. Pronounce a decree, and let the Delhi RTOS and Traffic Police slog over it. The deregistration will roll on once the Supreme Court pass the order. The green panel said the RTO, after de-registration, will issue a public notice and supply the list of vehicles to the Delhi Traffic Police, which will then ensure they carry order to ban diesel.
There’s some major paperwork that needs to be done, and compiling a list of almost 5.75 lakh old diesel vehicles is definitely not going to be an easy task for the Traffic Police department. This is the reason, why I personally can heave a big sigh of relief, for it will take some months before the “immediate effect” can actually take place.
The last time the green panel had suggested a similar order, the Supreme Court overruled the order and directed old car owners to pay 1% cess to NGT as Green Cess. I wonder how this payment helped in easing pollution in the city. If some diesel car owners files a case against NGT, the whole process might repeat, the SC might quash the order, and we would end up paying extra Cess to the green panel.
What is spreading panic among diesel car-owners is that the ban is “immediate”. There are better alternative to consider than a blanket ban. Won’t banning the heavy diesel gensets in the NCR cut the pollution too? But no government will support such a move for they will then have to provide power 24X7, and that’s an impossible thing.
A grace period would have been more sensible to tackle the issue. There should be some way where old car owners get some time to phase out their car with other viable alternatives. I would suggest electric vehicles and its parts to make them cheaper. And better mode of transport should be ensured before taking such a drastic step.