Delhi to make pollution certificate mandatory for vehicles at fuel pumps

Delhi to make pollution certificate mandatory for vehicles at fuel pumps

New Delhi: The Delhi government will soon make pollution-under-control certificates (PUCC) mandatory to refuel at vends in the city, state environment minister Gopal Rai said on Friday, in a bid to tackle the city’s crippling air pollution levels, much of which is caused by vehicles.

Senior officials said the government is looking to set up automated systems, such as RFID (used in FASTags), to check PUCs to avoid long queues at pumps and minimise the scope for fake documents.

To be sure, it is not clear if an automated system, if implemented in the Capital, will apply to vehicles from outside the state where vehicle owners are only required to carry a printed copy of the PUCC.

Rai said a draft policy has been prepared and will soon be put up on the state government’s website for comments from residents and other stakeholders.

“This is a very ambitious policy... North India, including Delhi, faces grave air pollution, particularly in winter. With this policy in place, vehicles will be mandated to have their PUC certificate with them at the fuelling station. Thus, pollution levels of every single vehicle in the state will be kept in check from time to time. The policy will effectively help us ensure that polluting vehicles do not ply in Delhi and residents can enjoy cleaner air,” he said.

According to the draft policy, people will have to carry a PUC certificate to get their vehicles fuelled at pumps. Officials said that those who refuse to renew their PUCC through a pollution test or who attempt to flee the spot will be fined of ₹10,000.

Delhi to make pollution certificate mandatory for vehicles at fuel pumps

Air pollution levels in Delhi touch hazardous levels every winter, and while they are driven initially by fumes from stubble fires in neighbouring states, vehicles are among the key sources of pollution at a local level.

An analysis released by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in November last year found that vehicles were the biggest contributor to local sources of particulate pollution in Delhi, with their real-time share touching more than 50% during the early phase of winter, between October 24 and November 8, 2021.

Officials said the state transport department is working out a plan to set up emission testing centres at all fuel stations in Delhi so that commuters with invalid PUCCs can get a new certificate for their vehicle at the same spot.

On October 15, HT reported on the government’s crackdown polluting vehicles by deploying teams at petrol pumps to conduct random checks on vehicles coming to fill fuel. By November 10, the transport department expanded the drive to all the 400-odd petrol pumps in Delhi and even asked all district magistrates (DMs) to deploy teams at the stations to check vehicles for PUCCs.

Government records seen by HT showed that there are nearly one million vehicles, registered with the state transport department, without a valid PUCC in Delhi.

During the crackdown at petrol pumps last year, the state transport department issued at least 850,000 challans against vehicles without a valid PUCC in October alone. The offence can attract a fine of ₹10,000, six months’ imprisonment or both. “Text messages are being sent to over 350,000 more vehicle owners, reminding them to get their vehicles tested for pollution,” said a senior transport official.

Reena Gupta, advisor to the environment minister, said the government is also working on setting up technology based methods for effective implementation of this policy so as to ensure that vehicle owners as well as petrol pump owners don’t face any inconvenience. “While drafting the policy, it is being kept in mind to keep technology based interventions so as to ensure there are no long queues because of checking of PUC certificates. While the exact mechanisms are being worked out, these methods can also include technologies like RFID,” she said.

PUCC is a mandatory document certifying that the vehicle’s tailpipe emission falls within permissible limits. Delhi has around 966 PUCC centres spread over 10 zones.

Random checks are also done by Pollution Level Test Inspectors to ensure that PUC centres are issuing accurate certificates.

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