Emission impossible: One state scrapping old cars is bad policy

lipped from: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-editorials/emission-impossible-one-state-scrapping-old-cars-is-bad-policy/?source=app&frmapp=yesTOI Edit

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Beginning 2022, the Delhi government will de-register diesel vehicles that have completed 10 years. The announcement is to give effect to an old order of the National Green Tribunal that was reiterated over three years ago by the Supreme Court. However, all is not lost for many vehicle owners who will be affected. If the vehicle is not over 15 years old, they can get a no-objection certificate from Delhi and have it registered in a neighbouring state. That may not help improve Delhi’s air quality but it serves to highlight the inconsistencies in the system to prevent air pollution.

An effective regulatory framework is sharply focussed on the overarching goal and the target that realises it. In the case of vehicular pollution, the only thing that matters is tailpipe emission, not the age of a vehicle. This should be the focus of the exercise to improve air quality in India. This step needs to be complemented by a national approach as state boundaries are irrelevant to the problem. A policy to tackle air quality that targets anything other than tailpipe emission will lead to distortions in the market for used vehicles without realising the overarching goal.

India notified a national vehicle scrapping policy in September. It relies on incentives to phase out old vehicles. GoI in Parliament has said that the policy’s aims include taking “unfit polluting vehicles” off the road. Mission creep of policy goals dilutes their efficacy. India does need to get unfit and polluting vehicles off its road. The best way to do it is to focus on tailpipe emissions and make it mandatory for older vehicles to undergo periodic fitness checks. None of these measures will work unless enforcement is strict. The approach, therefore, should be to tightly align a policy goal and the attendant measure.

This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.

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