“The various official and non-official studies conducted over the years have shown widely varying results that were inconclusive and did not help in policy decisions,” said Vikram S Kirloskar, president, Siam and vice-chairman of Toyota Kirloskar Motor. There is no doubt that vehicles add to pollution as they burn fossil fuel, but their contribution has reduced over the past decade due to higher emission norms, he added.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) Source Apportionment Study of 2011 found the transport sector contributes less than seven per cent of total particulate matter (PM10) in Delhi. Studies and papers prepared by Indian Institute of Technology, jointly by international institutes like University of Birmingham, Central Road Research Institute and the Desert Research Institute of US, quantified the contribution of road traffic to PM2.5 emission in Delhi at 18.7 per cent in summers and 16.2 per cent in winters, Siam said.
Studies in Delhi have also found that on holidays and weekends, when significantly lesser numbers of vehicles ply on roads, there has been no significant difference to the level of PM2.5. Claiming vehicle density in Delhi (number of vehicles per kilometre of road) is much lower to Chennai, Mumbai and Hyderabad. Kirloskar said the low PM2.5 in these cities does not establish that vehicles are the major source of pollution.
He also argued that if vehicular emission was the main culprit, the adoption of Bharat Stage (BS) emission BS-IV norms from a non-BS era a decade ago and use of compressed natural gas should have improved the quality of air.
Kirloskar said the argument that the benefits of higher emission norms have been lost due to an increase in the number of vehicles is also not credible since India produces only 2.5 million cars a year, while Europe makes nine million. Siam has argued that while people have a right to clean air they also have a right to mobility. “We cannot sacrifice one for the other. The stakes are too high.”