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India Ready To Force Clunkers Off the Road

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Red Fort in Delhi Smog

Early morning smog in India
Photo: Montgomery Lion

The car market in the developing world is exploding along with industrial growth, and that means that there is a lot of smog in the air, making it fairly hard to breathe. China and India both have well-documented cases of smog choking out whole cities, especially when the summers get warm. To try and improve the situation, India has taken a drastic step to try and improve air quality.

It’s no secret that older cars pollute more than newer ones (unless you drive one of those “Clean Diesel” VW vehicles), so the Indian government’s fairly simple idea is to take them off of the road. But how? Instead of considering a carrot approach, India’s environmental court went straight for the stick, ordering that all diesel vehicles that are more than 10 years old be deregistered in New Delhi, India’s busiest city (and pollution offender).

This same court banned the cars a year ago, but many Indians just ignored the ruling and kept on driving. Police said that they felt like they couldn’t enforce the laws, so the Indian court took drastic measures to try and improve the air and quality of life. The registrations will be cancelled immediately. Whereas drivers who were cited by police under the old ruling could just pay fines to break their cars out of impound and keep driving, the new rules mean that there is no option to break the vehicles out.

In addition to the mass deregistration, the court also put in place new bans on the purchase of large diesel vehicles and put fines in place for large trucks that come in to the city at night. We will see if the rulings are enough to cut pollution, or if police will once again be unable to enforce the court’s rulings.

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