Turning the screws: Just as a new study found vehicles to be responsible for over a third of Mumbai’s PM2.5 pollution, the Centre announced that it was bringing tougher anti-pollution norms for vehicles within three months | Photo: Indianauto.com

Stringent anti-pollution norms to be announced in 3 months for vehicles

India is set to announce a pollution control policy for vehicles, which will allow the government to suspend the registration of vehicles if the owners fail to comply. The new policy will provide a common pollution under control (PUC) format across the country, linking the PUC database with the national register for vehicles. The law for the first time will also introduce rejection slips to vehicles that fail the emission norms. These slips can be shown at the service centre for getting the vehicle serviced. The law will allow an enforcement officer to direct the vehicle owner to submit the vehicle for conducting the test in any one of the authorised PUC testing stations.

Vehicles contribute 30.5% PM 2.5 pollution to Mumbai’s air: Study 

More than 30% of deadly PM 2.5 pollutants in Mumbai’s air were from vehicles in 2019-20, found a study by SAFAR (System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research). This marked an increase of 16% from the 2016-17 data. Maharashtra’s Economy Survey report for 2020-21 said Mumbai had 10.3% of the state’s registered vehicles. The city’s vehicle density is now over 2,000 vehicles per km. The city has around 40 lakh vehicles with 11.6 lakh private cars and 24 lakh two-wheelers. 

The SAFAR study revealed that industries and the power sector contribute about 18% towards PM2.5 emissions, followed by 15%  from residential cooking in households and slums. Experts pointed out that unlike Delhi, Mumbai has very few CNG vehicles. 

Delhi to move top court and green court to relax vehicle scrapping norms 

The Delhi government will approach the country’s top court to relax vehicle scrapping norms for the National Capital Region (NCR), which automatically deregister 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles. The Delhi government feels the norms contradict the Centre’s proposed scrapping policy for other states.   

The Centre permits 15-year-old private vehicles on the road, but with a much higher re-registration fee and a fresh fitness certificate. But the Supreme Court on October 29, 2018, prohibited 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles in NCR, and directed the transport department and police to impound such vehicles. This rule applies to Delhi’d cars and bikes.

Green court orders UP govt to check pollution caused by sugar mills across the state

India’s green court, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) finally took note of unchecked air pollution caused by numerous sugar mills across Uttar Pradesh. Following a plea from Shahjahanpur, which complained that ash emissions from sugar mills in the area were damaging the health of students in a nearby school, the green court ordered the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board to conduct a special drive to check the status of air pollution caused by sugar mills across the state and give an action taken report to the NGT panel headed by Justice SVS Rathore, former judge of the Allahabad high court. 

The NGT said that requisite air control devices should be installed by the sugar mills as they cause “huge air pollution … at various locations in the state of UP” beyond the prescribed norms in violation of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

 Toxic lead banned from vehicles decades ago still hangs in the air: London study

Poisonous lead in the petrol that was banned two decades ago still hangs in London’s air, revealed a study. Scientists said this showed that lead from gasoline is here to stay and it continues to impact the health of people today. 

Toxic lead levels were much lower than at their peak in the 1980s, but they remain much above the natural background levels. Scientists said lead is extremely poisonous and there is no safe amount of exposure. Children are its worst victims as it damages their developing brains and ability to learn, the study said. Lead was introduced in fuel in the 1930s and it deposited on urban surfaces and soils over many decades and is thought to be repeatedly thrown back up into the air by winds, traffic and building works. Their levels are no longer declining, scientists said.