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The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to mull over whether on-board diagnostics (OBD) scanners could be made compulsory for vehicle pollution test centres in grade A cities like Delhi, from December 1. OBD is an automotive term referring to a vehicle's self- diagnostic and reporting capability. OBD II is designed to inform a car owner about any malfunction, including problems with brake or with the emission control system. A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta put the question to Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar who said he would take instruction on the issue as it would require investment by pollution under control (PUC) centre owners. "You have cities in grades A, B, C, D and others. May be as a first step, we can make these (OBD) scanners compulsory for PUC centres in grade A cities from December 1, 2017," the bench asked Kumar. Giving details of PUC centres, the solicitor general said there were 3,020 petrol stations and 1,083 PUC centres in the Delhi-national capital region (NCR). The bench was considering the report of the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) on the assessment of PUC programme in the Delhi-NCR. During the hearing, the court was told that OBD scanners were available in India and could be used at PUC centres. "All over the world, norms for assessment of PUC are tightened keeping in view the technology available.
Today, we have very lax standards," senior advocate Harish Salve, an amicus curiae in the matter, said. Meanwhile, the solicitor general said he would take instructions in the matter related to OBD scanners and come back to the court. In its report, EPCA has favoured review and upgradation of the PUC norms for pre-BS IV vehicles and also upgrade the test procedure for smoke density of commercial vehicles. In its 28-page report, the panel has said it had analysed the PUC test results for different categories of vehicles in Delhi-NCR submitted by the transport departments. "One critical observation was the very poor failure rate of vehicles at the PUC centres -- on an average not more than 2 per cent were found to fail the tests. While corruption and poor testing procedures contribute towards poor failure rate, analysis also shows a very wide margin of difference between the test results and the limit values for large majority of vehicles," the report said. EPCA has also sought directions to the transport ministry to develop the protocol for on-board diagnostics (OBD) II integration with PUC programme, which will require checking if the OBD is functioning and specify the type of scanner and computer software to pass or fail a vehicle. "What EPCA is asking for in this recommendation is to do a further check to make sure that the OBD is working. Therefore, the aim of integrating OBD II with the PUC is to ensure that the OBD itself is functioning and to check if the information from the memory of the OBD has not been tampered with or erased," the report said. Favouring tighter norms and test procedures for diesel vehicles, the EPCA has said that under the current PUC regime only smoke density test is possible in diesel vehicles and no other pollutant can be monitored. "Visible smoke test is inappropriate as visible smoke does not have direct correlation with particulate matter emissions. In fact, invisible emissions from diesel vehicles can have higher tiny particles," it said.
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