From imposition of a blanket ban on vehicle sales to slapping of ‘green cess’ the courts did their bit in controlling air pollution. The government, too, was not very far behind. Here is a look at the initiatives.
In the past 2 years India has seen a tremendous spurt in concerns over environmental degradation. Numerous public interest litigations (PIL) in the courts in support of having cleaner air, especially in heavily polluted cities like Delhi, saw some defining steps taken to curb the issue of pollution.
From imposition of a blanket ban on vehicle sales to slapping of ‘green cess’ the courts did their bit in controlling air pollution. The government, too, was not very far behind. The Narendra Modi-led government took some key initiatives including promotion of emission-free electric vehicles as an alternative to the traditional fossil fuels.
Here is a detailed look at all such key initiatives the country took in recent years to bring a cleaner emission vehicle closer to reality and reduce pollution.
Diesel Ban and Green Tax
Following a PIL the Supreme Court imposed a ban on sale of all diesel personal vehicles having engines more than 2000cc. Though the ban was imposed in Delhi-NCR, governments of other states explored the idea of imposing a similar ban. The ban was later lifted only after slapping of a 1 percent cess on such vehicles, the amount to be deposited with the Central Pollution Control Board. During the 2016 budget Finance Minister Arun Jaitley imposed a ‘green tax’ of 2.5 percent on small cars and 4 percent on bigger cars and SUVs.
Bharat Stage IV
The country’s apex court had to step in yet again and this time it was over the issue of implementation of BS-IV norms. Keeping in mind the environmental concerns the Supreme Court banned sale and registration of BS-III vehicles after April 1. This meant that only BS-IV vehicles, which are far less polluting than BS-III vehicles, could be bought and registered after the cut-off date.
Bharat Stage VI
Post the successful implementation of BS-VI norms across the country in 2020, India will remain the only country to have completely skipped an emission norm (BS-V) to jump directly to the next one. While India was originally supposed to adopt BS-V norm in 2019 and BS-VI in 2024 not only did the government decide to skip a norm but it decided to advance the date of BS-VI roll-out, too. Emissions from BS-VI vehicles will be even lesser than the present generation BS-IV vehicles.
Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME) formed under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan was constituted by the Narendra Modi government little less than a year after coming to power. This scheme subsidized purchase of hybrid and electric vehicles by giving direct cash benefits to buyers. Till date 1.46 lakh vehicles have benefited from the scheme through disbursement of Rs 182 crore worth of incentives resulting in a direct saving of 12 million litres of fuel and a reduction of 31 million kilograms of CO2 , as claimed by the government.
Besides incentivising buyers the government itself is pulling out all stops for promoting clean technology mobility solutions. Electrification of transport remains one of the main agenda of the government for which it has already started using electric vehicles. While some of its ministries are set to use electric vehicles for transport it is also asking state governments to replace their ageing diesel/CNG-powered buses with next generation all-electric buses. An all-electric bus could cost around Rs 2 crore and the government has promised to pitch in Rs 65 lakh. The Center’s blue print states that it wants to be able to allow only electric vehicles in India by 2032.
The government has plans to incentivise and encourage existing owners of old trucks and buses which are more than 11 years old to trade in for new replacements. Plans could involve exemptions on payments of duties or discounts on taxes. Such exemptions would help reduce the acquisition cost of new trucks, boost production and sales of new trucks, reduce emissions, boost fuel-efficiency, minimise fuel consumption and also cut down instances of vehicle break-downs. The Nitin Gadkari-led Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) had proposed a total monetary benefit of nearly Rs 5 lakh per truck of which half would come from state and central governments.
Liquefied Natural Gas
This fuel, which is a relatively a new concept in India, is aggressively pushed forward by MoRTH. While LNG is already used in the industrial sector, it is not commercially available for the automotive industry. However, the government is setting up LNG storage depots at ports to help make the fuel use as a conventional alternative to CNG. LNG is much cleaner than CNG even as CNG itself is a bigger polluter than petrol. Tata Motors is one of the few companies who has already developed an LNG-powered city bus.