Vehicular emission control in Karachi
Such gaseous contents are emitted by both gasoline and diesel vehicles with significant quantities of nitrogen oxide, particulates, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon.
Apart from causing respiratory diseases including cough and throat irritation, increased premature deaths due to heart attacks are mainly occurred due to high level of air pollution.
Moreover, high suspended particulates facilitate spread of air-borne bacteria and viruses which ultimately brings on less agriculture yield.
At provincial level, Environmental Protection Agency Sindh
tried to address the issue of vehicular emission through its scheme Vehicular Emission Control Program (VECOP) which was started in November 2007 and ended in June 2011.
The referred scheme envisages installation of four vehicular emission testing stations (VETS), two in Karachi and one each in Hyderabad and Sukkur, while rest of the urban spots of the province would be covered through mobile stations.
The prime objective of the scheme was to control the rapidly degrading air quality of the urban centers of Sindh and to reduce level of pollutants.
Under the said scheme a Green Squad inspected the vehicles at various pre-selected locations to identify and penalize the vehicles if found emitting above the limits stipulated by National Environmental Quality Standards.
Emissions and noise level of the vehicles are checked through latest gas and smoke analyzers. In collaboration with traffic police, vehicles are penalized on the spot if found exceeding the National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS).
Total 20,000 vehicles have been checked under VECOP out of which 35 per cent found overstepping the emission limits set by NEQS.
Total number of vehicles registered in Sindh is nearly 2 million which means the count of checked vehicles under the project is 1 per cent of total vehicles plying on the roads. As a sample analysis the performance of VECOP with respect to number of checked vehicle was quite satisfactory to build up an opinion to control the vehicular emission of Sindh on sustainable basis.
However, some other main components of the scheme could not have been completed; most important of them was establishment of Vehicular Emissions Testing Stations.
According to an official of EPA Sindh the establishment of VETS could not have been made because of financial constraints or lackluster in timely release of funds.
Environmental experts are of the view that the issue of vehicular emission can not be addressed properly unless it is regulated at national level with well-tailored subsidiary rules to implement its relevant sections under Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997 (now it is replaced with Sindh Environmental Protection Act 2014
after empowerment to provinces to work autonomously) without any loophole.
In this regard, they said, establishment of emission standards for vehicle at their manufacturing stage is a viable idea if it is put in practice in consultation with legal and technical experts of the vehicular emission control.
Most interesting aspect of the issue of vehicular emission
is that the criteria for issuance of fitness certificate are quite outdated. It was developed at the time when there was no concept of LPG and CNG fuel for vehicles; neither was it ever updated to coincide it with latest developments of fuel consumption nor was any move made in this regard.
Therefore, development of an up-to-date criterion for the fitness certification of vehicle would also help reduce vehicular emissions.
Moreover, for the mitigation of pollutant from gaseous emissions of vehicles at source point, Government should phase out sulphur from diesel and furnace oil which is main pollutant to mar the balanced beauty of ambient air quality.
Simultaneously, replacement of four-stroke rickshaws with two-stroke ones could also be a step in right direction if this step is taken administratively by binding and facilitating the rickshaw owners to discard their outdated and more polluting vehicle with an environment friendly one.
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