Self-destructive tendencies: The Indian government has approached the Supreme Court to challenge a ban on old diesel vehicles ordered by the NGT two years ago | Photo:

India: SC admits govt’s plea against ban on diesel vehicles

In a major setback in the fight against vehicular emissions, India’s top court has admitted the government’s plea to stay the green court’s order banning diesel vehicles that are over 10 years old and over 15-year-old petrol vehicles. Two years after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) passed the order, the Centre not only delayed implementing the order, but moved the top court attacking it. According to a DNA report, the apex court condoned the two-year delay and has agreed to consider the Centre’s application. The Centre’s lawyer said there was no legal basis to NGT’s order since “cancellation of registration …has to be done on individual assessment of vehicle, that too after first giving notice to the owner and on proof that the vehicle is beyond repair and dangerous to be used on roads.” In 2002, the top court had ordered weeding out diesel vehicles, but the then government argued that diesel vehicles have higher fuel efficiency, which cuts up to 15% less CO2 emissions as compared to petrol vehicles. It has since been found that emissions of other gases such as SOx and NOx from diesel vehicles are much higher than its petrol counterparts. What the court decides now remains to be seen.

Mumbai fails to submit pollution plan, exposes holes in national clean air plan target

In an embarrassment to India’s National Clean Air Plan (NCAP), Mumbai, known to have air quality that is more toxic than Delhi, was found to have not submitted a clean air plan to the apex Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) as yet. Mumbai and 10 other cities, that were part of CPCB’s list of 102 most polluted cities, failed to furnish a clean air plan, while 90 others did.  Mumbai’s case was revealed after India’s green court, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), recently ordered CPCB to increase its most polluted cities list to include 20 more cities, increasing the number of cities that do not meet the national ambient air quality standards to 122. 

Experts told Climate Trends that Mumbai is expected to deliver a plan in a week. According to Mumbai’s municipal corporation (BMC), the city’s nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels, attributed to vehicular emissions, shot up beyond permissible limits in 2018-19. The level of ammonia (NH3), attributed to mixed-waste burning, was at dangerously high levels in the area of Deonar. India’s National Clean Air Plan’s (NCAP) aims for an up to 30% reduction in PM2.5 and PM10 by 2024 in 18 polluted cities of Maharashtra.

Felling of 2,700 trees for a Metro car shed in Mumbai’s green lung gets official nod

In a major upset for Mumbai’s activists and citizens, the tree authority of the city’s municipal corporation gave its nod to the felling of 2,700 trees to make way for a Metro car shed in one of the financial capital’s few remaining green spaces, Aarey Colony. While the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRCL) has promised to compensate by planting three times as many trees elsewhere in the city, one member of the tree authority said she did not know what she was voting for as the proceedings took place in Marathi, a language she did not understand. She has since resigned from her post.

A petition has been filed in the Bombay high court accusing the tree authority of not following due process while giving its approval. 

Climate Trends study says Maharashtra needs campaign mode approach to tackle its pollution crisis 

Maharashtra needs to adopt a campaign mode to tackle its pollution crisis – that’s the conclusion of a new report published by Climate Trends. The report, titled ‘Unknown Hurdles to a Trillion Dollar Economy: Solving Air Pollution in Maharashtra’, with the help of recent studies, identified the main sources of pollutants in Maharashtra’s air. Industry, biomass, aviation, shipping, windblown dust and open burning caused 50% of the pollution, followed by vehicles at 30% and construction and demolition dust at 20%. According to the report, the number of vehicles in Maharashtra has risen by over 11,000% in less than fifty years, over 15,000 clamp brick kilns in the state were yet to be assessed for pollution levels and real estate developers will be permitted to build in green belts, which would mean more emissions from construction, even in tribal areas. Another critical factor for Maharashtra’s rising pollution levels, the study states, was that the Western Ghats divided the state into two parts, thereby not allowing air pollution to dissipate.

Pollution causing more droughts in India during El Nino: Study

Air pollution not just shortens people’s life span, but it also leads to droughts, says the latest study by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM). The impact of El Nino (the phenomenon where there is an increase in the surface temperature of tropical Pacific Ocean) on patterns of rain that lead to floods and droughts is well known. But the IITM study revealed that during El Nino years, the severity of droughts rose by 17% because of pollutants from south Asian countries. The aerosol pollution load at high altitudes reduced the amount of solar radiation in the monsoon region, thereby aggravating drought by further weakening the monsoon circulation, the study said. Increase in industrial emissions in east and south Asia will worsen the severity of droughts in India, the study said. 

China considers testing no-go zones for fossil fuel vehicles

Taking the war against vehicular emissions a notch up, China’s industry ministry said the government is planning to test ban fossil fuel vehicles in some parts of the country and set a timetable to phase out internal combustion (IC) vehicles altogether. The ministry website recommends analyses of market demand and emission levels to decide whether to test no-go zones for gasoline-fueled vehicles. China is the world’s largest EV market, with 1.3 million units sold last year.  China’s southern province of Hainan, said in March it plans to stop selling gasoline vehicles by 2030.

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