Is high fuel price in Delhi defeating the purpose of clean environment?

Twesh Mishra New Delhi | Updated on December 03, 2018 Published on December 03, 2018

Consumers are buying cheaper and lower grade fuel in neighbouring Noida

The National Capital Territory of Delhi has been getting BS-VI grade auto fuels well before the rest of the country to ensure that the national Capital can breathe cleaner air. But the very purpose of offering better fuel was seen to be getting defeated as petrol and diesel prices in neighbouring Nodia were cheaper than in Delhi.

In October, lower grade auto fuel in Noida was cheaper by ₹2.50 a litre, prompting consumers to to fill up their tanks there. The disparity in prices also resulted in fuel sales to drop in Delhi.

Though with the fall in global crude oil prices, the rates at the retail-end have come down, the fuel is still 50 paise cheaper in Noida.

According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, vehicular pollution contributes to 41 per cent of all air pollution.

While announcing the rolling out of BS-VI in Delhi from April 2018 after taking stock of the alarming pollution situation in the Capital in winter, the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan, had said that this fuel will bring down the sulphur by five times from the current BS-IV levels — this is, an 80 per cent reduction, which makes it extremely clean.

How does one check this?

According to Vivek Chattopadhyay, Senior Programme Manager, Centre for Science and Environment, “The Centre must first move to remove the disparity between petrol and diesel tax rates. The incentive for using more pollutant diesel must be removed. It is a responsibility of the Centre that the cleaner fuel (like BS-VI) should be priced cheaper than more pollutant fuels.”

However, not all residents of Delhi would be going to adjoining territories to fill up their tanks, he said. “This (exodus for cheaper fuel) must be happening in the border areas,” he added. But, according to Chattopadhyay, there is a silver : “Due to a combination of various steps, the number of severe air quality days has reduced this year compared to the previous years. Though the acceptable air quality is either good or very good,, every incremental improvement should be appreciated.”

One reason why auto fuels are more expensive in Delhi than neighbouring territories is because of local levies.

Ajay Bansal of All India Petroleum Dealers’ Association is hopeful of this situation changing. “The price of petrol may fall by nearly ₹1.10 a litre and diesel by ₹1.32 a litre in Delhi in the next seven days seeing the international trend. This fall will be higher in Delhi compared to the neighbouring States because of the way the State governments tax fuel. Uttar Pradesh has a fixed rate, while Delhi has an ad-valorem system,” Bansal said.

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Published on December 03, 2018
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