Despite Bengaluru having a high pollution level during peak hours, vehicular emissions have gone unchecked. Though it is mandatory, many owners of private vehicles have not renewed their pollution under control certificates.
Saran K, a resident of Marathahalli, informed The Observer: “PUC (pollution under control) certificates are compulsory like insurance certificates, but not many have them because police do not ask for them.”
G. Shiva, who has lived in the city for six years, said: “I haven’t renewed my PUC certificate yet. I purchased my bike three years ago and haven’t been to an emission testing centre this year. Until now, I didn’t know the police will ask for a PUC certificate.”
An employee of an emission testing centre near Kothanur who did not give his name said the government was right in increasing the fine for not having a valid PUC certificate to Rs 1,000.
Interrupting him, M. Raghuram, who was there to have the tyres of his vehicle filled, said: “Police fine us only when our PUC is not up to date. Otherwise, there is no check on vehicular emissions.”
According to the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, 2019, any person driving a motor vehicle in any public place shall, on being so required by a police officer in uniform authorised by the state government, produce the certificate of insurance, certificate of registration, PUC certificate, driving licence. The driver of a transport vehicle must also have a fitness certificate, permit and any certificate/authorization of exemption that has been granted under the MV Act.
PUC, compulsory for all vehicles, is valid for a period of six months. If a person’s vehicle fails the emission test, he/she must get it serviced before taking it for PUC checking again.
Though pollution emission should be checked regularly by the police and transport department, they fail to do so.
Satyanarayan R, a traffic police constable near Shivajinagar, informed The Observer: “We do not get hold of vehicles that have high emission. That’s because we cannot determine it. When we catch a driver for over-speeding or driving without a helmet, we check their licence and insurance and, at times, ask them for the emission certificate.”
An official at the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board said: “We work along with transport department and police to keep a check on the air quality. With so many vehicles on the road, pollution is also high. Violating vehicles can be checked only by the police. RTO check the amount of pollution generated during licence renewal.”
According to WHO data, transport sector emissions are responsible for a large proportion of urban air pollution. They increase the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancer and adverse birth outcomes. Respiratory diseases such as asthma are common due to vehicular emissions.
Dr Priya Ramachandran, a pulmonologist, said: “There are many known and unknown consequences of vehicle emissions beginning with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in babies and cancer. There are other far-reaching effects too.”
To protect oneself from the pollution-related diseases, she added, “We should start using electric vehicles and public transport. Roads should be maintained well so that people can cycle to their respective places. One should always wear masks to escape pollution.”
According to an India Today reportdated June 6, 2019, more than one lakh children under the age of five in India every year are killed by air pollution. It is responsible for 12.5 percent of all deaths in the country, according to the fourth edition of the State of India’s Environment Report, 2019.
The article also mentioned that in 2017, over 1.2 million died in India due to air pollution.
In 2013, India had pledged to phase out non-electric vehicles and achieve a target of 15-16 million hybrid and electric vehicles by 2020. Though Karnataka wanted to become India’s electric-vehicle capital, the goal still seems distant.