After years of campaigning for cleaner vehicles, environmentalists said the Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday to ban the sale and registration of vehicles that comply to Bharat Stage-III emission norms was the right message.

While cleaner BS-IV norms have been in place in 10 cities, including Delhi, since 2010, the older and more lenient BS-III emission standards have been in existence in the rest of the country. But from April 1, automobile manufacturers will not be able to sell BS-III vehicles.

Welcoming the decision, Greenpeace India campaigner Sunil Dahiya called it a “landmark judgment”.

‘Clear message’

“The court has said that public health comes first and that it is the priority over the economic benefit of a few,” he said, adding that similar moves were needed when it cane to other sources of pollution like coal-based power plants.

Sunita Narain, the director-general of the Centre for Science and Environment, said the apex court’s decision sent out a clear message. “The country is on the pathway to much cleaner vehicles. The victory yesterday [Wednesday] is not something to look down upon. The message is very clear from the Supreme Court that public health is not negotiable,” she said while addressing a Facebook live session on Thursday evening.

Anumita Roychowdhury, the head of the CSE’s clean air programme, told The Hindu that by shifting from BS-III to BS-IV, air pollution would come down. “Emissions from heavy vehicles, two-wheelers and cars are reduced by 80%, 60% and 50%, respectively, by moving from BS-III to BS-IV,” she said.

Better standards

Even though the decision impacts less than 9 lakh BS-III vehicles that automobile manufacturers have racked up as inventory, the implication going forward would be great. Ms. Roychowdhury added that companies that had already completely switched over to BS-IV compliant vehicles should be given incentives for the same.

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