India

India to ban old trucks and buses to curb pollution

Trucks are seen parked in an open plot near a national highway on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, December 2, 2015. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Commercial trucks account for more than half of vehicle emissions in India

India will ban trucks and buses more than 15 years old to curb record pollution levels, the government says.

India's capital, Delhi, is experiencing hazardous levels of pollution due to diesel emissions, construction dirt and the burning of crop stubble in farms around the city.

Air pollution causes more than 600,000 premature deaths in India each year.

India has 13 of the world's 20 most polluted cities, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported last year.

The ban will come into effect in April and will be announced in more detail in the next two weeks.

It will include commercial trucks, which account for more than half of India's vehicle emissions.

"It [air pollution] will get worse every year unless we do something," road transport and highways secretary Vijay Chhibber told Reuters.

However, other measures will have to be implemented if India wants to significantly change emissions, experts say.

"Taxes on cars and parking charges should be raised to curtail usage, and public transport should be expanded," said Vivek Chattopadhyay, a pollution expert at the Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi.

New car sales are soaring in India, with 1,400 extra cars taking to the capital's streets every day.

Last week India said it would require vehicles to abide by stricter emissions standards by 2019, three years ahead of the previous deadline.

Earlier this month, on the night of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, air pollution in Delhi reached 40 times the limit recommended by the WHO.

More on this story