SC Diesel Ban: Truck sales in NCR choked after drive against air pollution

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court imposed ban on big diesel-powered passenger vehicles in the National Capital Region has hurt commercial vehicle makers as well, and they are unsure when they will have some clarity on the matter.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in its ruling on December 11 had barred vehicles older than 10 years from plying on roads in the capital and stalled registration of all diesel vehicles to curb air pollution.

While the Supreme Court intervened later that month and imposed a ban on the registration of passenger vehicles sporting diesel engines displacing 2 litres and more in the whole of NCR Delhi and its satellite cities in adjoining states no clear directions were given on commercial vehicles.

But registration department officials in the region put a halt on the registration of new CVs with 2 litre and higher capacity diesel engines. “It is a catch 22 situation now,” a senior industry executive said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“The Supreme Court has refused to clarify the matter stating it never deliberated on commercial vehicles. The NGT, on the other hand, has said that since the apex court is deciding on the issue of registration of diesel vehicles in Delhi-NCR, it will not intervene.” To be sure, this doesn’t directly affect CV sales within Delhi, because any vehicle plying for commercial purposes within the city needs to be powered by CNG.

But it is a problem in the satellite cities that form part of the NCR. With the ban stretching into the eighth month now, makers of commercial vehicles are in a fix.

Like in the passenger vehicle space, the NCR is the largest market for medium and heavy commercial vehicles, accounting for 8-9% of country’s monthly sales of around 2,000 to 2,500 units. The directive of the NGT to not allow old vehicles on Delhi roads was initially expected to generate replacement demand for new trucks. The ban on new registrations, however, ended up clogging the medium and heavy truck market in the region, said industry observers.

Tata Motors said the company is hoping for the final order of the Supreme Court to shed some light on the issue. “We will await details of the order, before we make any comments on the subject,” said the company spokesperson.

Some fleet operators are bypassing the ban by registering vehicles outside the NCR. Diesel vehicles on All India Transport Permits can enter Delhi, but are required to pay a green tax. “The major impact is being felt on medium and heavy duty truck sales, as buses have already been converted to CNG.

Due to imposition of higher green tax, the business model of local transporters are disturbed as it is clearly an additional cost to him on daily movement of vehicle within the NCR,” said a senior executive on the condition of anonymity. The industry has made several representations before the court, the tribunal and the government.

“The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers has appealed to the government and is now a party to the case before the NGT,” said the industry body’s director-general, Vishnu Mathur. There has not been much headway in the case.

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