Auto makers seek ban on 15-year-old vehicles to cut pollution

Society of Indian Automobile Manufactures (SIAM), the Auto industry lobby of India, urged the government to put a ban on vehicles over 15 years old in the country to reduce pollution.

“Auto industry is doing a lot of work to reduce pollution. We are working to move to BS-VI emission norms. In order to reduce pollution, we request the government to ban vehicles which are 15 years old”, Siam president Vinod K. Dasari said. Speaking at the 57th SIAM Annual Convention, he urged the concerned authorities to help in the formation of a National Automotive Board, which will work as an advisory body to help government form policies.

According to Dasari, due to frequent changes in policies for the auto industry, the sector has been going through one of the most disruptive times. Every developed country has a strong automotive industry, hence India must work to strengthen its own since it accounts for almost 50 per cent of the country’s manufacturing GDP. With the proposed ban, the aim is to increase the “Make In India” program and uplift the sector by ensuring ease of business.

Dasari also appealed to the government to work towards making India a leader in electric vehicles by focusing not just on domestic markets, but also by tapping global ones.

Sources: NDTV, The LiveMint

Connaught Place to become car free zone from February

Visitors at Connaught Place, Delhi will now be able to walk without a hassle from unending lines of cars, as the middle and inner circle of the iconic market will turn into a pedestrian zone starting from February until the following three months. This came under the pilot smart city project, where in a meeting, Union Minister for Urban planning and development, M Venkaiah Naidu gave consent for carrying forward the project. He also discussed the feasibility of developing sidewalk cafes, public plazas, holding light and sound show and street festivals.

New Delhi Municipal Council (NMDC) and Delhi Police who were also present at the meeting, have stated that this would enable them to provide effective security for pedestrians and promote pollution free environment amidst the rising PM 2.5 levels. This also ensures effective ‘park and ride’ services where visitors can park their vehicles in major parking areas such as Shivaji Stadium and Baba Kharak Singh Marg Palika parking, thus using fossil-fuel free modes such as bicycle and E-rickshaws for commuting.  Total parking capacity at these locations is 3,172 and on an average, only 1,088 vehicles are being parked.

However, traders operating in Connaught Place opposed the proposition as this will take a serious hit on the business. “Instead of easing congestion, it would result in traffic jams in the Outer Circle all the way to Mandi House, New Delhi”, Traders Association president Atul Bhargawa said.

Sources: Hindustan Times, Times of India

Beijing Breathes Fresh Air after a Prolonged Battle with Pollution

The pollution crisis in China is a cause of concern, with increasingly-poisonous air levels hovering the Chinese skies. However, on December 22, Beijing breathed a bout of fresh air, even if only for a brief period.

As per reports, strong winds blew away the alarmingly high levels of pollution overnight, and considerably reduced the soot in the air. The pollution levels had blanketed the Chinese capital for five days, due to which the government had enforced a red alert.

The quality of air as per the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Beijing shot up to 400 during the course of the night. However, the friendly winds on Thursday pulled it down to a 50. The red alert was lifted following this development, which put an end to the emergency restrictions on vehicles and construction sites.

Although the sun shines on in Beijing, certain parts of Northern China are still shrouded with the pollution red alert. Readings are still being monitored in parts of Northern China, including the metropolis of Tianjin and the province of Hebei.

China’s war on pollution began in 2014 and has been a prolonged battle ever since.

Closer home, this phenomenon is seen in the capital city, Delhi which sleeps under toxic skies. The government of India should take a cue from the Chinese pollution crisis and think of it as a stern warning for the ‘dark’ days to come.


Sources: NDTV, Reuters

PMC inaugurates Multipurpose Garbage Processing Plant

PUNE: On Monday, a multipurpose garbage processing plant in the Koregaon park (KP) areas was inaugurated by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). The plant will be disposing different types of wastes. It has been named ‘Avani Navanirmiti Kendra’.

The corporator of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) from this locality, Vanita Wagaskar said, “This is one of the steps for making a garbage free ward. The plant can process wet garbage and dry garbage in the same premises. It houses unit for compost generation from wet garbage, sanitary napkins disposal facilities, garden waste shredders and unit for brick making from garden waste”.

The plant which houses two huge processing units bearing the capacity of 6 tonne each had been laid out, on Monday in panel number 21.

Last year in January, Uruli-Phursungi’s villagers had taken up the responsibility and stopped the garbage dumps. The further carried out protests against the improper garbage management. This was followed by the state government’s order to PMC to stop the garbage dumping. A ‘special action plan to mitigate the garbage problem’ was introduced by PMC during meetings with several associations. A plan to increase the decentralised garbage processing facilities, had been obtained by the civic administration. And, the unit at KP is one of those steps.

Nearly 1,600 metric tonne of garbage is generated in Pune every day. This includes nearly 850 tonnes of dry garbage , 250 tonne of wet, and 500 tonnes of  mixed garbage.

According to the civic officials, in the total garbage generated in Pune 15% is plastic. With the population growth, its quantity is increasing as well. Due to non-availability of land, processing of garbage is becoming a menace.

Source-  Times Of India

China Shuts down 2500 polluting firms: smog crisis

BEIJING: 2,500 small firms in Beijing are about to be shut down by the Chinese authorities, on grounds of environmental restoration and protection. The city had been plunged/immersed into grave smog crisis and according to this step is an effort to restore the ecological balance.

By 2020, Beijing aims to transfer almost 600,000 households from coal to clean energy. Also, Beijing’s six downtown districts have planned to abandon use of coal for the next two years. Therefore, as per the government’s plan, 2016 is to witness a reduction in coal consumption by 500,000 tons, whereas in a span of five years, use of coal in all other facilities is attempted to be eliminated.

According to EDGAR database which is formed by European Commission and Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, China has become the top-most carbon emitter in the world. The database claims that the country’s dependence on coal for power is over 60 per cent.

Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center (BMEMC), recently revealed information that shows that in 2015 PM2.5 by average figure was almost 81micrograms per cubic meter. This figure has gone down by 6 per cent since 2014. And yet, numerically it surpasses the national standard.

The red pollution alert as the most severe smog warning that had been issued by the authorities at the close of 2015 had embroiled up the government in a lot of criticism in terms of its ability to tackle the situation.


BS-VI set to be the emission norm from April 2020, completely bypassing BS-V

In another measure to curtail pollution levels, a unanimous decision was taken to implement the Bharat Stage (BS)-VI emission norms from April 2020, thereby bypassing the BS-V norms altogether, which were initially supposed to be implemented after the incumbent BS-IV and BS-III in the country.

The decision was taken at a meeting spearheaded by Transport minister Nitin Gadkari, and also saw the attendance of ministers of other concerned ministries including Petroleum, Environment and Heavy Industries.

On the issue, Gadkari was quoted by PTI as saying, “Government has decided to leapfrog from BS-IV to BS-VI directly by April 1, 2020. We have decided to skip BS-V emission norms. It is a bold decision and a commitment to environment. “

This decision to change the trajectory of emission norms to more stringent standards, will require oil refineries to invest an additional 80,000 crore.

Moreover, the decision comes at a time when BS-IV is limited to only northern India, while the other parts of the country still receive BS-III grade fuel.

Significantly, the issue of pollution has been receiving heightened attention in the country, especially as the Delhi government is experimenting with an ambitious odd-even scheme to curb the alarming pollution levels in the National Capital.


Sources: The Hindu, TOI

CSIR proposes mid-week reprieve to combat pollution in Delhi

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Thursday proposed a solution to combat the alarming levels of pollution in the National Capital- a mid-week work-from-home policy.

CSIR, India’s largest chain of publicly funded research labs claim that this proposal is far more effective than the controversial odd-even scheme formulated by the Delhi Government.

According to the proposal, there should be a mid-week reprieve-such as on a Wednesday wherein, employees and students could work or study from home rather than commuting to workplace and school. The logic behind this proposal is that because, the vehicular pollution tends to accumulate through the week, a mid-week break could help stop the build-up and improve the air quality.

CSIR- National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS) said that the proposal was a result of the in-house research which was led by a broader directive from the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Sujit Bhattacharya, a senior professor at the institute said, ” This idea that we’ve proposed is the first of related ideas that we’re working on.”

A statement from NISTADS said that they propose a 2+1+2 working week in which Wednesday, will be a Virtual Attendance at Work and School (VAWS) day, with two regular working days before and after. In addition to reducing pollution levels, VAWS will have several other benefits like energy saving at school/work, higher efficiency, reduced travel related stress, improved quality of life etc. Also, VAWS can be easily monitored and implemented through an organised system.

The proposal comes at a time when the Delhi Government is gearing up for the implementation of the Odd-even formula from January 1st.

Sources: The Hindu