BENGALURU: Following Delhi government’s decision to ban old diesel vehicles and limit registration of new ones to reduce pollution, city experts debate if the rule would work in Bengaluru.
Over 10,000 lorries may have been plying on city roads over the past 15 years, carrying construction materials and other goods, emitting large quantities of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Besides, Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation has a fleet of over 6,500 buses, of which over 90 per cent run on diesel. They need to be checked as well, traffic expert M N Shreehari observed.
“There must be a lobby between the government, automobile companies and owners to allow registration of vehicles in huge numbers, despite there being over 60 lakh vehicles in the city. In Dubai, vehicle registration is controlled. If 1,500 vehicles are being registered every day in Bengaluru, there should be a provision to ban the same number of vehicles that would have run on the roads for over 15 years,” Shreehari said.
Urban transport expert Vivek Menon agrees. “A knee jerk reaction may affect owners. A time-bound approach to gradually phase out old diesel vehicles would work best.”
Respiratory diseases due to air pollution are on the rise, said Dr Sashidhar Buggi, pulmonologist and director, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases. “Smoke emitted from diesel vehicles cause complications in the system. The dust that rises due to bad roads combines with the smoke and makes it worse.”
With large vehicles seen as major contributors to pollution, BMTC is perceived as one.
However, its managing director Ekroop Caur said, “When compared to the nearly 66 lakh vehicles in the city, BMTC’s contribution to pollution is very little. The buses are being checked every six months and none of them within city limits are over 10 years old. We have already introduced bio-diesel buses and we are working on electrical buses as well.”
Fifteen cases of allergic rhinitis, a respiratory disorder that affects the nose, have been reported at Victoria Hospital. Thick smoke along with dust causes the disorder, said Dr H S Satish, ENT specialist and medical superintendent.
‘Not possible here’
Transport Commissioner Ramegowda lauded the National Green Tribunal directive and said, “However, the same cannot be applied in Bengaluru now as, firstly, we need a better public transport system to make up for the removal of vehicles. The Metro should cover more areas and the BMTC should come up with CNG as an alternative fuel for its buses. Secondly, such a move is not possible as it would come under the central Motor Vehicle Act.”
‘Intensify the checks’
Ramegowda also said that the officials of the transport department have been instructed to crack the whip on vehicles that violate pollution norms.
“The emission checks will be intensified and the department is contemplating allowing such vehicles to ply only on the Outer Ring Road,” he added.