The Delhi government's order to deregister all diesel vehicles older than 10 years on January 1, 2022 has met with disagreement from many owners while experts welcomed the decision to tackle air pollution in the national capital.
In compliance with the National Green Tribunal's directions, the Delhi government will deregister all diesel vehicles which will complete 10 years on January 1, 2022, and issue no objection certificate (NOC) so that they can be re-registered in other places. However, no NOC will be issued for diesel vehicles, which have completed 15 years or more on the date of applying for it, according to an order issued earlier this week by the Delhi transport department.
Hemant Kaushal, project coordinator at Centre of Excellence for Research on Clean Air at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi termed it a "positive change" while emphasising the need to welcome retrofit startup companies. "The government should welcome more retrofit companies in the market so people can buy retrofit vehicles in exchange for their diesel ones, or to get their vehicle retrofitted. Such purchase should also be incentivised that people may be encouraged to go for retrofit vehicles," Kaushal told PTI.
He added that inviting retrofit startups to do business in Delhi will also make the electric vehicle market more affordable to the common man. "Right now, a common person cannot think of buying an electric vehicle. But having a retrofit vehicle industry will pave the way for an overall faster transition toward electric vehicles," he said. The idea of retrofitting the diesel vehicles may be a noble one but to Delhi resident Sairam Nair it is not an affordable one.
"I bought a vehicle in 2008 that cost me Rs 27 lakh, even if I get it retrofitted it will cost me Rs 8-9 lakh more. How can anyone afford that? What about those who buy a Mercedes after saving for years, I cannot imagine the cost to retrofit such a car," Nair said. Measuring commercial and private vehicles with the same yardstick also annoyed Nair. "A commercial diesel vehicle may drive around 3-5 lakh km in a year, my car has completed 15,000 km in 13 years. How is it fair to deregister both under the same standards," he questioned.
After deregistering his vehicle last year, Rajesh Bhatia, a resident of Karol Bagh, however, welcomed the Delhi government's decision saying a good deed has to start at home. "I understand people put their life savings into buying vehicles and 10 years is a small time. But we have to look at the larger picture, maybe people will start buying cheaper and more fuel efficient vehicles because of such orders," Bhatia said.
He suggested that the authorities should make such decisions based on the individual vehicle's health and condition. "I don't think it's fair to reject all cars because they are 10 years old. Some people keep their cars in better condition than themselves," he said.
Sunil Dahiya, analyst at Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), believed that it is important to have such policies but warned that it would be rendered useless without strict implementation. "The policy to deregister old vehicles has been there for some years now. While it is good to re-emphasise it, without strict implementation it means nothing," Dahiya said. He added that to reduce pollution caused by vehicular traffic, the authorities need to look at several solutions and not just one.
"The government cannot focus on just one solution. It has to strengthen the city's public transport, improve last mile connectivity, better footpaths and so on. Only if all these are combined, then Delhi can have improved air," he said.
-With PTI Inputs