CNG found carcinogenic; No fuel is clean NGT must learn from aviation, go for maintenance, not scrap 10 cr vehicles a year


Some of the regulators like the National Green Tribunal (NGT) are functioning more with enthusiasm ignoring the basic tenets of law and impact on the gradual wealth formation and economic growth.
The NGT order to regional transport office (RTO) for deregistering 10-year-old vehicle is also unscientific. Its concern is more populist than practical. Throwing out say about 82496 (registered in 2015) diesel vehicles in Delhi, or about 5 lakh petrol vehicles every year, going by the 10-year and 15-year scrapping orders, would impoverish the country but would not solve the problem of pollution. All over the country the numbers would swell to at least 10 crore a year.
The NGT order ironically is in contradiction with the provisions of Motor Vehicles Act (MVA). A judicial or quasi judicial body is supposed to adhere to the law of the land. The magistracy does that more appropriately. “It is stated that vehicles are released by the magistrates after imposing fine under the MVA and the vehicles surface again on the roads”, the NGT noted on July 19.
There is nothing like a clean fuel. All fossil fuels – coal, petrol, diesel, kerosene and CNG – are “unclean”. Even electric vehicles’ batteries are pollutant. So should we ban any energy-producing substance?
“Natural gas is supposed to be a clean fuel when used in internal combustion engines, right? But, I don’t think people realize that what you see (smoke) is perhaps better than what you don’t see (no smoke from CNG vehicles),” said Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) director general MO Garg during his address at the Global Green Energy Conclave at Ahmedabad on August 6, 2015.
“Imagine what will be its effect when all the commercial vehicles, such as buses, run on natural gas in Delhi. You can see smoke coming out from diesel engine and tell that it is dangerous. But, nanocarbon particles coming out from vehicles is something we need to look at,” Garg added.
The compressed natural gas (CNG)-run buses are harmful for humans as they emit “nanocarbon” particles which can cause cancer, according to a study conducted by CSIR with a professor of Alberta University, who have developed a device to measure and analyze particles emitted by vehicles, Garg said.
In 2010, the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) source appropriation for air pollution study attributed about 7 percent of particulate matter pollution from CNG-run vehicles. Of the total pollution PM load in the Capital, the study said 52 percent was because of dust.
The CPCB study said that CNG vehicles contribute about 10 percent of the total nitrogen dioxide load in the capital. “The CNG does not contribute much to PM 10 (which is widely monitored). But it plays an important role in the circulation of smaller particulate pollution of 2.5 and 1 microns. These facts are known in the scientific community but have not been disseminated to people,” a senior CPCB scientist was quoted by a Delhi newspaper (Hindustan Times, March 13, 2015).
The studies have come from the highest scientific bodies in India. Why we should not ban CNG vehicles, if we have to go by the logic of the NGT and courts. The CSIR and CPCB studies reveal how utopian orders are being passed by bodies, which do not function on reality and practicability.
Mere euphoria cannot solve problems. It can hurt the fledgling economy of a country that is struggling to come up. It is possibly also hitting the efforts of political leaders, like prime minister Narendra Modi, who are trying to take the economy on fast track. Such orders take country back by several decades.
There is yet another aspect. About a month ago, the civil aviation department allowed aviation companies to purchase 18-year-old aircraft, instead of 15-year-old, to make air travel easier between smaller cities. The planes on domestic US flight are often as old as 40 years.
If these do no cause pollution how can a well-maintained vehicle run on any fuel adhering Euro IV to VI norms would cause it? The NGT has not studied these aspects unfortunately. It owes an explanation to the nation for its not so wise decisions.
There is yet another aspect. Banning old vehicles add to pollution and problems of disposal of metallic and toxic substances. Cities across the country are facing severe garbage dumping problems. Abandoning running and efficient vehicles would only add to problems and chaos. It is also against the very concept of “swachh Bharat”.
The quixotic ban orders sometimes of petrol vehicles, sometimes of 2000 cc diesel vehicles, at other of all diesel vehicles or levying of penal registration charges or utopian parking norms are hitting the automobile industry and users hard.
India has made efforts to make it a global automobile production hub. It earns substantial foreign exchange from vehicle exports. On an average it is earning over $ 2 billion a year forex. Almost a similar sum is earned by export of automobile ancillaries and spare parts.
The recent NGT and court decisions have caused uncertainty in the car industry. It hurts the transport and taxi industry and makes travel unnecessarily difficult and costlier.
Apart such Tughlaqi orders increase rent-seeking and harassment of common man, who find it difficult to eke out a living. So far it was only the police. The latest order has empowered the RTO people also to do it. To survive the common man, be a private or commercial vehicle owner, would like to pay “illegal rents” than face the deprivation of his hard-earned vehicle.
Stringent impractical orders lead to a parallel economy and severe corruption.
The NGT’s concern is not unreal but the solution is. Let the nation follow the standards of maintenance of vehicles. As per MVA, drafted with utmost care and practicability, vehicles are allowed to have registration even after 15 years if these are in suitable conditions. Let the NGT set those standards in consultation with the automobile industry. Let it learn from the aviation industry where four-decade-old aircraft are airworthy. Let no vehicle, unless not maintained properly, be ever scrapped.
The NGT needs to revise its orders and contribute to the economy and ease of life and business.

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