57 per cent increase in pollution levels in just 4 years in Bengaluru. With a population of around a crore, the city has a whopping 55, 59, 730 registered vehicles (as on March 2015) and nearly half of them are light and heavy diesel vehicles. (Representational image)
By Shravan Regret Iyer
Bengaluru: The recent landmark order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banning light and heavy diesel vehicles that are more than 10-years-old in six cities of Kerala, has been celebrated by many greens, who believe that Bengaluru too could do with a similar ban.
With the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) revealing a 57 per cent increase in the particulate matter in the city in just four years, they feel it may be time to ban light and heavy diesel vehicles older than 10 years from its roads as diesel vehicles emit the highest nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter into the environment.
With a population of around a crore, the city has a whopping 55, 59, 730 registered vehicles (as on March 2015) and nearly half of them are light and heavy diesel vehicles.
Air quality monitoring by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in December 2015 had revealed that Bengaluru’s particulate matter — PM10 levels — rose by 57 per cent between 2010 and 2014, the highest among all southern cities. And the Ministry of Environment and Forests, which did a six-city study in 2010, found that vehicles contributed 42 per cent of particulates and 67 per cent of nitrogen oxides found in Bengaluru’s air. The major culprits, it said, were the older vehicles.
Even more worryingly, a study published by Subin Solomen on the Research Gate website says the city’s air pollution aggravates Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and warns that more than four hours of bike riding on its roads ups the chances of even non-smokers developing the condition.
While the studies prove there has been a disturbing increase in the city’s air pollution, there is still no move to ban the older diesel vehicles on its roads. Calling for a ban on diesel vehicles older than 10 years, former environment secretary, Dr A N Yellappa Reddy says they are responsible for 30 per cent of the unburnt hydro-carbons in the atmosphere owing to their poor combustion. “These vehicles are not maintained properly and the transport department is very inefficient in monitoring them. Also, many old vehicle users buy adulterated diesel which causes, even more pollution. The government has to eliminate
such vehicles,” he stresses. But ask Dr. Ramegowda, Commissioner for Transport and Road Safety, and he claims the department does have rules in place for old vehicles plying in the city.
Reeling off figures, he says in 2014-15 it checked 16,55,347 vehicles and booked 28330 for letting off emissions above permissible limits. A fine of Rs 1.60 crore was collected from them. The department also claims to have identified 15- year- old transport vehicles that are more polluting than others.
This story was originally published in Deccan Chronicle May 28, 2016, edition.