NGT asks states to furnish data on diesel-petrol split, and pollution levels from motor vehicles

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) would hear the matter on banning bigger diesel vehicles in 11 major cities in July this year, after the court in a hearing today asked eight state governments to furnish information on pollution levels, the human population, and density for petrol and diesel vehicles in these states.

The ongoing hearing is part of the NGT’s move to ban sale of diesel vehicles with engine capacities over 2,000 cc in 11 more cities in the country. The ban, which is currently underway in Delhi-NCR following the Supreme Court order, could be imposed in cities including Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Shimla, Jalandhar and Patna.

The next hearing on the matter is set to take place on July 11. The Department of Heavy Industries has also appealed to the NGT to avoid any ban on diesel vehicles, saying the decision could hurt investments and derail the ‘Make in India’ plans of the Central government.

Meanwhile the automakers affected by the ongoing ban have also submitted pleas to NGT to not ban any diesel vehicles in any new market. Japanese carmaker Toyota Motor has witnessed a total freeze on its flagship models like Innova MPV and the Fortuner SUV, following a total ban on registrations of bigger diesel vehicles in the Delhi-NCR market, which accounts for almost 15 per cent of its sales.

The company said that it’s unfair to single out any particular capacity diesel engines that meet all the mandated regulations of the country.  “The extension of the ban to new cities and states would severely impact our sales and operations, and make our massive investment totally unviable,” a company spokesperson said.

Amongst the various petitions, the apex body of automakers, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) through its counsel, told NGT not to pass orders before hearing their contentions. The body claimed that diesel cars are responsible for minuscule level of pollution and far less than dust in urban markets, which is a major source of pollution in the country.

In the jampacked courtroom, following the Monday order when the NGT had summoned the chief secretaries of eight states that had failed to submit details of air pollution in their cities, and asked for fresh information on the diesel vehicles being plied by government bodies like Municipal Corporations that is expected to come up in the next hearing.

The NGT is hearing a petition to restrict diesel-powered vehicles to reduce air pollution in 11 major metros and would be evaluating the relevant data to decide whether or not to ban new diesel passenger vehicles of 2-litre and above engines, as well as decide the fate of vehicles older than 10 years in these major cities.

Industry estimates that the ban could jeopardise a market of more than 4 lakh new diesel vehicles fitted with 2-litre or larger engines currently selling in the country every year.