Context:

The Supreme Court directed on Thursday that vehicles without valid pollution under control (PUC) certificates would not be eligible for the annual insurance.

Introduction:

  • The Supreme Court passed the order on a petition for stringent steps to curb air pollution
  • The court also asked the Centre to consider creating a national database of vehicles to monitor as to whether they are compliant to emission norms.
  • A Bench of Justices Madan B.Lokur and Deepak Gupta accepted the recommendations of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) for mandatory linking of PUC certificates with annual insurance.
  • The court also directed the linking of PUC centres with an online network and data centres to prevent manual tampering.
  • The court asked the State governments to audit PUC centres and set up a strong system to ensure credible tests and emission results.
  • The bench was hearing a PIL filed by environmentalist MC Mehta way back in 1985 dealing with various aspects of pollution.

Pollution under Control (PUC) certificate:

  • PUC is a certification mark that is provided to vehicles that undergo the PUC Test successfully.
  • The certification indicates that the vehicle’s emissions are in alignment with standard pollution norms and are not harmful to the environment.
  • All vehicles on Indian roads are mandated to carry a valid PUC certification.
  • PUC (Pollution under Control) is a Certification Mark issued to certify that motor vehicles in India meet emission and pollution control norms.
  • A vehicle, not carrying a valid PUC Certificate is liable to be prosecuted under Section 190(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act. A penalty of Rs.1000/- for first offence and Rs.2000/- for every subsequent offence of violation has been provided.
  • After the expiry of period of one year from the date of first registration, every motor vehicle is required to carry a valid PUC Certificate.
  • A valid driving license, valid insurance cover and a PUC Certificate are the mandatory documents that every vehicle owner must possess while driving a motor vehicle in India.
  • The process for the PUC certification has been specified as per the Central Motor Vehicles Rule.

Background:

  • The apex court had earlier granted three months time to the Centre to come out with standards for emissions by industries in the National Capital Region (NCR) to bring down the level of air pollutants.
  • The apex court had in May directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to prepare standards for emissions by industries in the NCR to curb level of air pollutants.
  • It had asked CPCB to prepare the standards for emissions by June 30, which should be followed by industries by December end.

Need for PUC certificate:

  • The PUC system is critical to keep emissions of on-road vehicles under check. Overall improvement in compliance will lead to lesser emissions on road,”
  • The vehicular pollutants have damaging effects on both human health and ecology.
  • These pollutants are believed to directly affect the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. In particular, high levels of Sulphurdioxide and Suspended Particulate Matter are associated with increased mortality, morbidity and impaired pulmonary function.
  • Vehicular exhaust is one of the important sources of air pollution and there is an urgent need to check the extent of vehicular pollution in India.

Legal Aspect:

  • An insurance coverage is mandated by the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, for all cars plying on Indian roads.
  • As per the Central Motor Vehicles Rule, 1989, it is mandatory to get a PUC Certification for your vehicle.

What is the procedure for PUC tests?

For Diesel vehicles:

  • The accelerator should be fully pressed.
  • The reading of pollution levels should be noted with the acceleration pedal fully pressed.
  • The average of five readings is considered as the Final Reading

For Petrol vehicles:

  • The vehicle is kept idling without the accelerator pressed.
  • Only one reading is taken.

The PUC certificate content:

The PUC certificate must mention:

  • the certificate serial number
  • the vehicle license plate number
  • the date of testing
  • the expiry date
  • the emission readings

Vehicles Requiring PUC Certification

All vehicles that are operational on the Indian roads are required to carry a valid PUC certificate. Pollution testing centers issuing PUC certificate for your vehicle across all cities. For example: there are over 256 pollution testing centers in Bangalore, Karnataka alone. These centers could easily be spotted beside busy highways or near a petrol pump.

PUC Certificate Validity

  • PUC Certificate issued to a brand new car is valid for one year.
  • After the lapse of that one year, PUC tests must be conducted every six months.
  • In case the vehicle emission are detected to be higher than the normal limit, the validity of the PUC certificate, and thus the time in which you would have to get a re-test done, will be decided by the reading of the test.
  • The PUC testing centre in-charge might inform the RTO of your vehicle’s pollution test results and registration number, in case the vehicle emissions are found to touch dangerous levels

Recent steps:

  • The EPCA has suggested strengthening inspection of PUC centers for quality control and introduce well-equipped mobile test centers and a programme to check visibly polluting vehicles.
  • The EPCA made recommendations in its report on assessment of the Pollution under Control programme in Delhi and the National Capital Region.
  • The report was submitted in the Supreme Court in April this year.
  • The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways was a party in the case and had responded positively to the EPCA report.
  • The Supreme court passed the order on a petition for stringent steps to curb air pollution.
  • The court agreed with the EPCA that the linkage between PUC certificates and vehicles insurance would go a long way in ensuring compliance and a subsequent dip in vehicular emission levels.

Outcomes of EPCA investigation:

  • The EPCA investigation has shown very poor level of compliance with the PUC programme.
  • In Delhi, only 23% of vehicles come for PUC test.
  • With mandatory linking of annual vehicles insurance with valid PUC certificate, the compliance level can improve significantly.
  • EPCA has sought to enforce penalty for PUC centers for non-compliance and malpractices.

Conclusion:

Recently,  released reports by various organisations like World economic Forum rates many of the Indian cities in top 20 polluted countries in the world. This has proved that the current practices for reducing pollution effect is not enough and what we need is a comprehensive and synergized approach by the government.

 

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