Advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has lambasted the Centre over its claim in Supreme Court that vehicles were not causing pollution in Delhi and alleged that the government was trying to protect vehicles and the automobile industry from strong action.
CSE claimed vehicles contribute smaller particles that get into blood stream and damage respiratory and cardiovascular systems causing cancer and premature deaths and there is evidence that pollution levels in Delhi go down when cars are off the road.
"We are deeply shocked at the callous and indifferent attitude of the ministry towards one of the most serious public health crises looming in Delhi and other cities of India," said Sunita Narain, director general, CSE.
The CSE said that Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) has filed an affidavit this week in response to a notice issued by the Supreme Court asking for action on the increasing levels of air pollution.
"The ministry has contended that vehicles are not to be blamed for the pollution as they account for only 6.6 per cent of the particulate problem and that pollution in the air is mostly due to dust from roads and construction activities, not vehicles, the CSE claimed.
"The government seems desperate to belittle the role of vehicles. This protects automobile industry and car users because combating pollution today requires tough measures to restrain cars, encourage public transport and leapfrog vehicle technology," said Anumita Roychowdhury, CSE executive director and head of its air pollution control programme.
She said that it is "inexplicable" why the government has dismissed nearly all the actions and emergency measures suggested by the Court to protect children and other vulnerable sections from vehicular pollution as "not doable".
CSE said that the claims of the Ministry is based on "flawed study" which ignores the more deadly PM 2.5 concentrations.
"The Ministry seems to be holding the health of the public, especially children and the old, to ransom by this action," it said.