Greens cheer Ramesh’s call to restrict big diesel cars

New Delhi, Nov 13 (IANS) Environmentalists Saturday welcomed Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh’s remarks that it was criminal to drive big diesel cars, saying these were a threat to energy security, climate and public health.

‘We commend environment minister for slamming increase in sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and use of cheap and toxic diesel in personal cars that add to the toxic risks in our cities,’ said Anumita Roychoudhury, head of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) air pollution and urban mobility team.

‘Diesel cars emit much more toxic particulate matter and nitrogen oxide – the key pollutants of concern in Indian cities — than petrol cars,’ she said.

Ramesh at a conference Friday said that it was criminal to drive SUVs and big diesel cars as these polluted the environment.

He also said that the government needs to correct fiscal policy to discourage sale of big diesel cars.

‘The government should immediately lift subsidy on diesel as use of cheap diesel in big cars and SUVs leads to more pollution,’ said Sarath Guttikunda, an air pollution analyst.

Auto experts, however, were not ready to buy Ramesh’s contention, saying share of SUVs among vehicles in India was not more than 2-3 percent.

‘The minister needs to have some more facts and figures in mind as the number of SUVs is not more than 2-3 percent. Why not ban the entire diesel range — taxis and commercial vehicles — which are running on subsidised diesel,’ said automobile expert Tutu Dhawan.

According to Dhawan, modern diesel engines have become so efficient that they beat the performance of gasoline engines.

India, the world’s fourth largest greenhouse gas emitter, has launched a new United Nations-backed project to reduce emissions and develop a low-carbon transport system.

New Delhi will work with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the German non-governmental organisation International Climate Initiative on a $2.5 million, three-year project to bring the country’s transport growth in line with its climate change agenda.

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