As part of its pollution control campaign this year, the transport department has planned to ban the entry of commercial diesel vehicles, including heavy motor vehicles, into Delhi from November to February. Usually, entry of such vehicles, from trucks to mini tempos, is banned for only 15-20 days either in November or December.
A proposal in this regard has been sent to Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot for approval.
“Diesel-based vehicles and heavy motor vehicles are largely responsible for causing pollution in Delhi. Every year, entry of trucks is banned following an increase in levels of PM 2.5/PM 10 or following directions issued by the Commission of Air Quality Management (CAQM) or on orders of the National Green Tribunal. So, this year, the transport department has taken preventative steps in advance instead of waiting for air quality levels to worsen,” said a senior official.
According to officials, around 70,000-80,000 trucks enter the national capital every day. Vehicles that will be allowed into the city include CNG-run commercial vehicles; e-trucks; all trucks carrying essential goods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, eggs, ice, milk and other food items; and tankers carrying petroleum products, said an official.
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“Once the proposal is approved by the transport minister, preparations will begin and restrictions will either start on October 1 or November 1 and will continue for four months,” added the official.
Truckers and commercial vehicle associations opposed the proposal, stating that those who deal with heavy vehicles will have to bear losses worth crores.
“Banning entry of trucks in Delhi for 15-20 days is acceptable, but four months is a long period and will impact transporters. Businesses will be seriously affected. This will also impact the government’s revenue and might culminate in a hike in prices of food, vegetables and other items,” said Rajendra Kapoor, president of All India Motor and Goods Transport Association.
He added, “Why is the ban only for trucks? Why don’t you ban other diesel vehicles in Delhi? If diesel is a prominent pollutant, manufacturing of diesel vehicles should be banned. This is not a solution.”
Arun Sharma, president of Delhi Transportation Association, said, “How will people buy CNG vehicles if the price is nearing the cost of diesel? Due to the frequent rise in CNG prices, people are selling CNG trucks and opting for diesel ones. Truckers can take the Delhi-Chandigarh or Jammu road or any expressway but some routes are through Delhi and this ban will cause major chaos.”
Officials, however, said trucks can bypass the city and reach their destination via the Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways.
Experts, too, said the plan was not feasible.
Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said: “Ban on the entry of trucks into the city is not a sustainable solution. Instead, the government should focus more on infrastructure and measures should be taken to increase use of public transport system, walking and cycling facilities, and control vehicles inside the city. Delhi has 3 crore cars, so measures such as a parking policy should be implemented.”