Delhi's genset ban: where are the alternatives, ask residents

The Environment Pollution Control Authority's decision to ban the use of generator sets has met with a lukewarm response in Delhi.

The use of such sets is widespread and often unavoidable across India thanks to erratic electricity supply. Delhi's trade bodies and resident associations suggest that practical measures should be taken in the order to absorb the impact of the ban on normal life.

The order, which bans the use of generator sets in Delhi barring some essential services, comes at a time when Delhi's ambient air quality dipped to a very poor level. The authority issued the order on Tuesday.

Announcing the measures, the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) clarified that the ban on diesel generator sets was being implemented only in Delhi, as the rest of the NCR (National Capital Region) was yet to find suitable alternatives. The ban won't apply to essential services such as hospitals, mobile towers and the Metro. However, generators can't be used at weddings, housing societies and malls, The Times of India reported.

Ashok Agarwal, an advocate at thein Delhi High Court, told Firstpost, "Only recently, the Supreme Court banned the selling of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR. But in the end many firecrackers were burst in Delhi on Diwali. It is difficult to (enforce) ban with such orders.Adequate homework should be done before passing such orders."

The lawyer said that separate rules regulating emission from generator sets already exists, which makes the ban questionable.

"What would happen to the norms that already exist? Would this ban be effective even on the generator sets which follow those norms? If yes, then what is the point in having such norms?" he asked.

The Central Pollution Control Board had set separate emission norms for petrol, kerosene and diesel generators in 2013 through the Gazette of India.

But Ashutosh Dixit, a functionary in the United Residents Joint Action, a common platform for resident welfare associations in Delhi said that the ban should be seen only as an emergency measure and not a permanent one.

The EPCA ban will be in force until 15 March 2018.

"It is very likely that emergency measures may create problems for some sections of the society. But it is to be remembered that to have a better future we need to sacrifice a bit in our present. We should not expect that a better future would be served to us on a platter," Dixit told FP.

But he accepted that there are some practical problems which this order is going to cause on the daily lives of the people in Delhi.

Kanchan Zutshi, who heads the environment committee of Punjab Haryana and Delhi Chambers of Commerce and Industries welcomed the move to ban generator sets but said that people should have been given time to make alternative arrangements.

"I know some shopping malls do not depend on generator sets, but avail uninterrupted power supply from power distribution companies. Affected institutions should come together and seek time from the authority to make such alternative arrangements," Zutshi said.