The Bombay high court has granted the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation the last chance to upgrade its vehicles like dumpers, fire engines and ambulances, engaged in essential services, so that they meet the latest emission standards.
A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice MS Sanklecha allowed BMC to use its old vehicles despite there being a ban on 15-year-old vehicles from plying in the city. The court has asked the corporation to make its vehicles Bharat Stage 4 (BS 4) compliant in six months. “We grant relaxation up to June 30, 2014, to BMC vehicles from prohibition against plying 15-year-old vehicles,” said the judges in an order on December 24.
BS 4 – the emission standard for heavy vehicles in India – has been implemented in the city since April 2010, however, the BMC still wants to continue with the Bharat Stage 3 for some of its vehicles providing essential services. The HC granted relief to the corporation while hearing their application seeking permission to ply their old vehicles till it procured BS 4 norm vehicles.
The application filed by deputy chief engineer (solid waste management) transport stated that they were not getting BS 4-compliant vehicles and sought more time for the procurement. While granting relaxation, the judges noted that a number of extensions have been granted to the corporation. Putting the civic body on notice, the HC said that the court may consider not granting any further relaxation.
In 1999, NGO Bombay Environmental Action Group had filed a public interest litigation highlighting air pollution in the city and a committee was formed to recommend steps. On October 17, 2001, the court ordered phasing out of 15-year-old vehicles and 8-year-old taxis if they were converted to run on CNG/LPG by March 1, 2002. As a result, the entire fleet of taxis which were run on diesel and extremely polluting were replaced by taxis run on CNG/LPG.