India’s Supreme Court postpones low emission rules for New Delhi transport

Following the failure of authorities in New Delhi to combat the cities serious air pollution, India’s Supreme Court has decided to postpone a 30 September deadline for all buses in New Delhi to convert to cleaner-burning compressed natural gas (CNG).

The Supreme Court issued an order in March 2001 that all of New Delhi’s 12,000 buses and thousands of rickshaws should convert to the cleaner fuel (see related story). However, this has resulted in protests from the owners of small bus companies and rickshaws, with those who have already converted their vehicles being forced to queue for hours in order to fill up their vehicles due to the shortage of CNG in the city. The high cost of the fuel has also meant that some rickshaw operators have been unable to earn enough to support their families, media services report.

However, according to NGO Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), air quality in New Delhi has improved over the last few months, coinciding with an increase in CNG use in the city. The organisation accuses a variety of government organisations of attempting to sabotage the Supreme Court’s March CNG order through misinformation and inaction, including a failure by the Ministry of Transport to bring in safety rules for CNG vehicles, resulting in a series of accidents. The Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI) disagrees with CSE’s findings on pollution levels, stating that air quality – especially with regard to particulates – has actually worsened since old commercial vehicles were banned from the city’s roads in April 2000.

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