Citizens' Issues
NGT bans old diesel cars, Delhi, experts hail decision

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar passed the order and asked all the transport authorities concerned to give details of all such vehicles

 

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday banned all 10-year-old diesel vehicles from plying on Delhi roads, a decision welcomed by the state government as well as experts who also called for tightening emission norms along with banning entry of trucks and buses that aggravate the environmental damage.
 
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar passed the order and asked all the transport authorities concerned to give details of all such vehicles.
 
The tribunal also asked the agencies concerned to ensure that all entry points into the city have units to check pollution levels, weight and age of vehicle by April 9, lawyer Balendu Shekhar, who represented East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) in the case, told IANS.
 
Welcoming the order, an official of the Delhi government raised the issue of the trucks and buses that enter the national capital every night and are the "main cause behind rising pollution levels".
 
He called for the central government to ensure that such pollution vehicles do not enter Delhi.
 
Environmentalist Vivek Chhattopadhyay saw emission benefits in the NGT order that will "definitely reduce the pollution level" in the city, but hastened to point out the need for tighten emission norms.
 
"By implication, Euro II and Euro I cars, which emit a very high level of pollutants, will be phased out. But what is going unnoticed is the rising growth rate of diesel cars in Delhi," said Chattopadhya, the programme manager at the Centre for Science and Environment.
 
Suggesting a fiscal solution to check this rise, he called for increasing the tax on diesel and advocated for switching to Bharat IV emission norms sooner than the proposed time frame of 2024.
 
"We can't further delay the implementation of the next stage of emission norms here. The more we delay, then what about the new cars that will come on road between now and 2024?" he asked. questioned.
 
The current share of diesel cars in Delhi is about 45 percent, where one diesel car is equal to about seven petrol cars, Chhattopadhyay noted, adding that this gap must be closed with tighter emission norms and equal taxation for both fuels.
 
Appreciating the move made by the green panel, Sumit Sharma, fellow, earth science and climate change at TERI, whoever drew upon the logistical hurdles in enforcing the order.
 
He said the real challenge lay in identifying the age of the vehicles registered with the Delhi transport authority.
 
"The check post at the Delhi border can check the vehicles crossing into the city. But how do we check the ones that are already plying on the city roads," he wondered.
 
Echoing the sentiment, the Delhi government official said equally harmful are the old vehicles registered in the city while garbage burning in the open and the construction dust alos feed the scourge of pollution.
 
Meanwhile, the EDMC lawyer said the bench, giving example of other countries across the globe, said that as they are in the process of prohibiting or have prohibited diesel vehicles by imposing very heavy taxes, it (the NGT) also must take measures to ensure good air quality for residents in and around Delhi.
 
The bench also passed strict orders against any illegal construction activity in and around Delhi.
 
The tribunal had, late last year, banned petrol vehicles over 15 years old in the national capital.
 

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112 proposed as India's single emergency number

To suggestions that existing emergency numbers like 100, 101, 102 and 108 can be retained as secondary numbers, TRAI said calls made to these numbers should be directed to the new single emergency number 112

 

India's telecom regulator TRAI on Tuesday proposed using a single number '112' for all emergency phone calls across the country including for police, fire and ambulance services.
 
"Authority recommends that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for India. This new number may be popularised extensively through a public awareness campaign by the government," the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said here.
 
To suggestions that existing emergency numbers like 100, 101, 102 and 108 can be retained as secondary numbers, TRAI said calls made to these numbers should be directed to the new single emergency number 112.
 
Similar to the 911 emergency service in the US, people will be able to make calls on 112 from their phones even if their outgoing call facility has been debarred or the service is temporarily suspended.
 
TRAI also recommended setting up of helplines to handle calls of people in distress.
 
Under the new system, the regulator has asked the government to set up a Response Management System under a Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) which will coordinate for despatch of emergency services.
 

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Mumbai-Goa catamaran service to be launched soon

Before the advent of the Konkan Railway and the airline tickets got cheaper, the only modes of transport from Mumbai to Goa and vice versa were either an overnight bus journey over coarse roads or hopping onto a steamer which would take 24 hours to coast over the passage

 

Tired of booking expensive flight tickets to Goa? If the efforts of Goa's Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) and Mumbai Port Trust pan out, a cheap catamaran service may help to fuel Goa's tourism story further.
 
Speaking to IANS on the sidelines of a media event in Panaji late Tuesday, chairman of MPT Cyril George said he had received written consent from his counterpart in the Mumbai port facility and a cheaper catamaran ferry service could begin in as soon as two months.
 
"This service will be able to serve tourists and a pleasure for passengers. It will be convenient and nature friendly," George said.
 
The top official said the two port bodies were speaking to two private agencies, who were keen on operating the catamaran service, which George said, will help tourists travel to and from Goa, with a lesser toll on their wallets.
 
"You may be feeling that to travel from Goa to Bombay (and vice versa) especially during New Year is expensive or tickets are not available. This (catamaran) may be the answer," George said.
 
Before the advent of the Konkan Railway and the airline tickets got cheaper, the only modes of transport from Mumbai to Goa and vice versa were either an overnight bus journey over coarse roads or hopping onto a steamer which would take 24 hours to coast over the passage.
 
In 80s, the steamers were commandeered into service during the Indian peace keeping force operations in Sri Lanka only to be replaced by swanky privately operated catamarans more than a decade back, a service which died a quick death because of commercial non-viability.
 
George claims a lot had changed since the failed private catamaran enterprise and that the dynamics or marine travel and interest in Goa had changed.
 
"There was a ship service 10 years ago. The situation has changed a lot like the culture, attitudes, picnic, economy, etc. Now a lot of people want to visit Goa," George said, adding that the MPT was also planning two marinas and a ferry service in Goa's territorial waters.
 
Goa is known as one of the best beach tourism destination in the country and attracts nearly four million tourists every year.
 

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