In an order with far- reaching implications, the Kochi Circuit Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday ordered light and heavy diesel vehicles of more than 2000 cc which are older than 10 years off the streets of six major cities of Kerala.
The ban, which will cover vehicles in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kochi, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kannur, will come into effect in 30 days.
Rs. 5000 fine
Each detected violation thereafter will entail a Rs. 5,000 fine as environmental compensation. The fine should be collected by the traffic police or the Pollution Control Board, the Tribunal said.
This means that over two lakh diesel vehicles registered in the State will be phased out.
Of the over 96 lakh vehicles registered with the Motor Vehicle Department, 98,400 light motor vehicles are beyond the 2000 cc and 10-year-old criteria comprising of 44,524 medium motor vehicles, 41,121 heavy motor vehicles and 3700 private stage carriers.
In addition, the NGT Bench, comprising NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar and expert member Bikram Singh Sajwan, has directed the State government not to register any more diesel vehicles of 2000 cc and above, except Public Transport and Local Authority vehicles.
The State government has been asked to inform the Tribunal as to the availability of compressed natural gas (CNG) for running of vehicles in the entire State.
The order was passed on a writ petition filed by the Lawyers’ Environmental Awareness Forum (LEAF), a green wing of the Kerala High Court Advocates Association.
The petition sought a ban on all diesel operated trucks, lorries, autos, taxis which are more than 10 years.
Kerala has a vehicle population touching nine crore. The petition said Kochi, the commercial hub of the State, ranks 25 among the critically polluted areas in the country. Older trucks were mainly responsible for increasing air pollutant levels, the petition held, adding that the use of diesel vehicles was increasing in the State.
The petitioner maintained that the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) had refused to subject diesel buses and trucks to pollution checks. The department was only interested in penalising two wheeler riders and reluctant to ensure that buses and trucks were complying with pollution norms. The inaction of the department was against public interest, it argued.
State Transport Commissioner Tomin J. Thachankary, however, said the MVD will appeal the NGT order once the new State government takes over. “There are practical difficulties and public transport sector will be hit by this [order],” he added.
Those owning these vehicles and make a living out of them will be the worst hit if the directive is executed. The restrictions are seen as positive to reduce the congestion in the roads as already vehicle population is nearing 1 crore.
Credits The Hindu