City gasps as dirty fuel pollutes the air

Reduce Dieselisation

Air pollution is killing millions every year in Delhi and it has been empirically proved to be the most polluted city in the country.

As Delhi tops the list, it has also grown its car ownership, notably after the diesel deregulation in October 2014. The price of diesel, is now market-oriented, without any government intervention, which has increased the diesel car ownership.

Anumita Roychowdhury from Centre for Science and Environment says, “In this scenario, diesel is cheaper than petrol, but the diesel quality that we afford today is far from the best and this kind of deregulation is also increasing public health risk.”

Roychowdhury is CSE’s executive director-research, which works towards “promoting democracy and sustainability” in the environment.

“The Government has pegged the price of diesel but scientific data validates that Indian diesel, in most parts of India, has sulphur level of 350 PM. Metropolitan cities like Delhi have 50 PM whereas for healthy environment sulphur levels must be maintained between 10 to 15 PM,” says Roychowdhury.

Fiscal measures have to be taken to generate clean emissions prompted by rising concern over health, energy and climate, experts said at an interaction organised by CSE recently at the India Habitat Centre. The issue was discussed by some of the most eminent personalities working in the field of ‘science for environment.’ The discussion was followed by a small field trip afterwards.

Ruchita Bansal, programme officer with CSE said, “The CSE committee has
recommended measures like including differential pricing of Euro III and Euro IV fuels and additional cess on fuels to generate additional revenue and create a dedicated Clean Fuel fund.

These and more measures as practised globally, including differential taxation of clean and dirty fuels, capital subsidy to the refiners etc, can be explored and adopted for implementation in India.”

The most significant fact which emerged was that while the World is running on EURO VI, India still has EURO IV has a long way to go before it is able to afford the best diesel.

Roychowdhury also explained the importance of levying taxes on diesel cars. “We don’t have that kind of money right now to go for EURO VI and by removing subsidy we are not only creating health risk but also adding on to the years for affording the clean fuel.”

According to CSE’s findings an additional tax on diesel vehicle buyers can be added at the time of purchase and also an annual tax be made effective for nullifying the benefits for car owners stemming from low-taxed diesel. These demands would not only control dieselisation but also push the market towards clean diesel for all segments of vehicles, including trucks and buses.

Moreover, the diesel car segment has been particularly high over the last few years. Sales for SUVs have increased by about 43 per cent. If the diesel cars maintain a growth rate of at least 20 per cent, it will be double that of the existing fleet soon.

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