NGT bans plying of diesel vehicles older than 10 years in Kerala

The circuit bench of the National Green Tribunal in Kochi has banned plying of diesel vehicles older than 10 years.

Calling it an arbitrary decision by a responsible body., critics say, this order, if not amended, could almost bring to a halt both public and private transport services in the state.

The Kerala State Transport Corporation (KSRTC) could be the worst sufferer as a third of its fleet is older than 10 years.

The NGT order, while serve to drive up sales of new vehicles, has shocked vehicle owners in Kerala, where sales of second-hand vehicles thrive.

The tribunal has also asked the state government not to register any more diesel vehicles above 2,000-cc capacity. It has, however, exempted vehicles for public transport and those to be used by local authorities from the purview of the ban order.

The order of the NGT Southern Zone Bench comes on a petition by the Lawyers Environmental Awareness Forum.

NGT chairman Swatanter Kumar and expert member Bikram Singh, in their order said, ''We direct that all the diesel vehicles, whether light or heavy, which are more than ten years old, shall not be permitted to ply on the road in the major cities like Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kochi, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kannur.''

The NGT order gives a grace period of one month for vehicle owners to comply. Vehicles found violating the order will be fined Rs5,000 as 'environmental compensation', which will be utilised for the 'betterment of environment in these cities'.

The NGT bench has also asked the state government to report to it on the availability of CNG for the running of vehicles in the entire state.

Though the order specifically bans plying of older vehicles in the six largest cities of the state, the impact of the ban will be felt all over the state and beyond as it will affect movement of people and transport of goods from one city to another as the six cities are spread across the state.

It will also affect trucks transporting goods from other states, especially Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan and Haryana.

Associations of truck owners, private bus operators and tourist vehicle owners have came out strongly against the NGT order.

KSRTC is planning to appeal against the NGT order in the Kerala High Court in a couple of days, state transport commissioner Tomin Thachankary told the media.