In a landmark judgement, the National Green Tribunal Circuit Bench, on Monday, banned light and heavy diesel vehicles that are more than 10 years old from plying in six major cities in Kerala, including state capital Thiruvananthapuram and commercial capital Kochi.
The decision came as a shocker for all major stakeholders in the transportation sector in Kerala.
As per the statistics provided by the Transport Commissionerate, 98,400 light motor vehicles and 41,121 heavy motor vehicles that are run on diesel will not be permitted to ply on roads.
If the order is implemented, the public transport system in the state will bear the brunt of the consequences, as over 6,000 transport buses will go off the roads.
According to an official at the Transport Commissionerate, around 2000 KSRTC buses and 4000 private buses in the state run on diesel and are over 10 years old.
M B Sathyan, President of All Kerala Private Bus Operators Association threw up a different figure. He said that around 8000 private buses will go off the roads and that it will affect the lives of lakhs of people in the state.
Banning these vehicles without any other alternative in place could put the entire public transport system under distress.
A stakeholder meeting of the Bus Operators Association will be held on Saturday, after which, Sathyan said, a decision will be taken on the future course of action, including an appeal against the NGT’s decision. He also said that they would take up the issue with the transport minister once the new government takes charge.
P A Sainudeen, Joint Transport Commissioner of Kerala also agreed that the new law could create a critical imbalance in the public transportation system and stated that an appeal against the decision will definitely be filed once the new government is formed.
According to car dealers, the private sector is not expected to be affected significantly by the NGT ruling. Rajesh Vijayan, a trainee manager at Popular Automobiles, for instance, said that since 90 percent of all private cars run on petrol the private car market will be relatively unaffected.
“This decision will not affect the private automobile sector much. Nevertheless, taxis, goods vehicles and public transport will be affected badly,” said Rajesh.