CSE supports the principle that the Supreme Court has established today that diesel cars are more polluting and should pay Environment Compensation Charge (ECC)

August 12, 2016

  • The order further states that the application from the Amicus Curiae on enhanced ECC for all diesel cars will be taken up and decided subsequently. CSE urges that this be expedited quickly

  • The voluntary offer by the big car industry to pay 1% ECC that has been taken on board is not a deterrent to curb use of low tax and polluting diesel fuel for luxury use  

  • The earlier submission from the Amicus Curiae had stated that at least 20 to 30 per cent environment compensation charge should be fixed to equalize the fuel taxes for both diesel and petrol car users. 

  • Due to price distortions diesel cars are consuming as much low tax diesel as the agricultural sector. 

  • India needs strong measures to control diesel emissions as it is a strong carcinogen and a major trigger for heart, lung and brain diseases.

New Delhi August 12, 2016: Centre for Science and Environment supports the principle that the Supreme Court has established today that diesel cars are more polluting and should pay environment compensation charge (ECC). The Chief Justice bench has further stated in the order that the application from the Amicus Curiae on the enhanced quantum of ECC for all diesel cars will be decided subsequently. CSE would urge that this be expedited as soon as possible. The voluntary offer by the big car industry to pay 1 per cent of ex-showroom cost of the vehicle as environment compensation charge that has been taken on board cannot be a deterrent to curb use of low tax diesel in luxury cars to reduce public health risk. 

ECC is expected to make consumers aware of the pollution potential of the diesel cars. The Supreme Court has directed that the Central Pollution Control Board has to open an account in a public sector bank where the ECC will be deposited from big diesel cars and SUV makers. The manufacturers, dealers and purchasers can register 2000 cc and above engine cars only after paying the ECC. The transport authority will register these cars or SUVs only if receipt of payment of green levy is shown. 

Earlier the Amicus Curiae in its submission to the Supreme Court had proposed at least 20-30% ECC on diesel cars to equalize the fuel taxes for diesel and petrol car users. Diesel car users cannot pay less tax per liter of fuel compared to petrol cars or two-wheelers. This needs to be equalized to control growing use of dirty fuel in cars that have cleaner substitutes like petrol and CNG. 

Immediate correction is needed to stop misuse of low tax diesel fuel for luxury consumption. Though diesel is taxed low for the farmers, cars are using as much diesel as the agricultural sector, according to the estimates of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. When all buses, taxis and auto rickshaws have moved out of diesel and trucks are being discouraged with ECC, cars cannot be encouraged to dieselise.  

The government should recognize that because of greater awareness around toxic risk from diesel emissions and the judicial intervention to control its use to protect public health, it is making positive impact on consumer choice and product plan of the car manufacturers. Several car and SUV makers have announced new petrol models. If the policy signals were given on time it could have prevented recent expansion in diesel car manufacturing in India. The data from the Delhi Transport Department shows that while car sales have continued as it is the share of diesel cars has continued to decline. These are the positive signs of market correction that needs to the supported with effective fiscal policies. 

Globally, diesel cars are being discouraged because of serious health concerns. The World Health Organisation has branded diesel emissions as class 1 carcinogen which has a strong link with lung cancer, same as tobacco smoking. The IIT Kanpur’s source apportionment report has shown that diesel four wheelers in Delhi are responsible for 78% of the PM2.5 from the transport sector. Based on this the International Council on Clean Transportation has estimated that the combined cancer risk of diesel exhaust in Delhi is several times higher than that of petrol engines. If the exposure to the entire population is considered, more than 2,80,000 individuals are at an additional risk of cancer from lifetime exposure to diesel exhaust. 

More studies have shown that diesel particles are more harmful than other particles and dust. These increase ischemic heart disease related deaths. It is important to note that Global Burden of Disease estimates of 2013 for India has shown that half of air pollution related deaths in India are caused by heart disease. Dieselisation will further enhance that risk. 

Globally, in big car markets with no fuel price gaps like that of the US and China, diesel car penetration is a mere 1-2 per cent. Beijing and Brazil do not allow diesel cars. Even Europe after dieselizing rapidly and meeting much tighter standards of Euro VI is restraining diesel cars as their cities are violating NOx standards. 

Recommendations 

  • Immediately enhance ECC on all diesel cars to equalize the fuel taxes for both petrol and diesel car users. This needed to reduce public health risk. 

  • Notify Euro VI standards immediately to be implemented in 2020 so that emissions from petrol and diesel cars can be brought at par


For more information or for interviews, contact Vrinda Nagar, CSE Media Resource Centre, at 9654106253/ vrinda.nagar@cseindia.org.