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Is India doing enough to tackle vehicular pollution?

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New Delhi, June 25: Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday told Lok Sabha that the government has decided to leapfrog directly to BS-VI quality from 1st April, 2020 in the entire country to combat pollution.

Bharat stage emission standards (BSES) are emission standards instituted by the Government of India to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engines and Spark-ignition engines equipment, including motor vehicles.

Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan

Pradhan also told the House that BS-VI auto fuel in National Capital Territory of Delhi is being supplied from 1st April, 2018.

The announcement assumes significance as air pollution is responsible for 12.5 per cent of all deaths in India. Its impact on children is equally worrying. Over 100,000 children below the age of five die due to bad air in the country.

Modi 1.0 government has also notified National Policy on Biofuels-2018, which allows production of ethanol from damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice etc. which are unfit for human consumption. The policy also allows conversion of surplus quantities of food grains to ethanol, based on the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.

Use of damaged foodgrains and surplus foodgrains for production of ethanol will increase its availability for Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme.

The National Policy on Biofuels-2018 envisages an indicative target of 20 per cent blending of ethanol in petrol and 5 per cnet blending of bio-diesel in diesel by 2030.

During the ethanol supply year 2017-18, 150.5 crore litres of ethanol was blended in Petrol which resulted in foreign exchange impact of about Rs. 5070 crore and carbon emission reduced to the extent of 29.94 lakh tonnes, Pradhan told Lok Sabha.

Pradhan inaugurates & lays foundation of several oil & gas projects in Tripura

The vehicular pollution is one of the reasons behind Climate Change, which features prominently in the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.

A study by International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), George Washington University, and the University of Colorado Boulder in the U.S. says that as much as two thirds of deaths from air pollution in India can be attributed to exhaust emissions from diesel vehicles.

The main pollutants emitted from the automobiles are hydrocarbons, lead/benzene, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter.

However, the watchdogs say that government seems to have been doing a little in taming pollution.

A report by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) says that while India was one of the first countries to pledge the phasing out of non-electric vehicles, its national scheme to promote the sale of e-vehicles is yet to pick up. Against the target of 15-16 million e-vehicles by 2020, the county had 0.28 million vehicles till May 2019.

The government has launched the second phase of FAME scheme (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles) to incentivise production of electric vehicles in March. However, electric vehicle makers say that the policy requirements have made it almost impossible for any company to avail the schemes.

Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicle (SMEV) has pointed out the loopholes in the FAME II policy.

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