Sri Lanka will be able to save Rs.One billion annually if it could reduce fuel consumption by one per cent by controlling emissions (unburned fuel), according to Motor Traffic Department sources.
In this connection, a long-awaited unique `Emission Testing Programme`(ETP) was launched yesterday at the BMICH with the participation of Transport Minister Dullas Alahapperuma, Environment and Natural Resources Minister Champika Ranawaka, Road Passenger Transport Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna and representatives from the private sector.
It was noted that since Sri Lanka`s motor vehicle population will reach 2.4 million in 2008 as it is growing by 6 per cent per annum, serious environment consequences as a result of this growth, especially in regard to air pollution, were envisaged.
According to Motor Department Commissioner B. Wijeratne, the EPP tests vehicle emissions were conducted to identify vehicles emitting the most pollution. It requires these vehicles to be restructured so that their emissions are reduced. That would also be helpful in economising the fuel consumption of the vehicle thereby saving money.
The programme is the result of the policy level decision that has been taken by the government in order to regulate vehicle emissions and fuel standards to mitigate the mounting threat caused by air pollution affecting public health. The regulations consist of necessary provisions making the `Vehicle Emission Certificate` a mandatory requirement for each roaduser vehicle and it is compulsory to obtain the annual Vehicle Revenue Licence.
CleanCo Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. and Laugf Gas (Pvt) Ltd. have come forward to facilitate the programme by undertaking setting up testing centres and implementing the process. Each company will set up sixteen fixed centres and forty mobile centres which account for thirty two fixed centres and eighty mobile centres for testing purposes across the island. Each company has invested Rs 500 million for setting up centres and facilitating them with equipment.
The programme will begin from April 2008. A fee of Rs. 200 will be charged for motor bicycle testing and the amount will increase according to the capacity of the vehicle tested. For a heavy truck, it will be Rs. 850. The vehicle owners have to renew the licence annually by testing the vehicles.
In parallel with this proramme, the Motor Traffic Department and other stakeholders of the programme will carry out several supportive activities such as educating vehicle associations and individual commuters. Plans are underway to train garage owners and technicians in this scheme of operations.
In addition to this, the department will gazette the legislation of mandatory requirement of the emission certificate and would take the initiative to promote the programme outside the Western Province as well.
Environment and Natural Resources Minister Champika Ranawaka speaking on the occasion said he would introduce new laws to preserve the environment by next year. He promised incentives for those who do `green business` and said he will charge a fee from those who emit unnecessary components into the environment.
According to Transport Minister Dullas Alahapperuma, Sri Lanka consumes 160 million barrels of fuel annually. Rs 150 million is spent for fuel for country`s transportation activities, annually.
He said 175,000 vehicles enter Colombo city daily and 250,000 vehicles registered in the Colombo district and all these vehicles cause a huge problem to the environment by way of emissions and noise.
He said plans will be introduced to reduce noise pollution inside private buses and on roads by implementing a special programme by next year together with the Environment Ministry.
Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni explained the dangers of fuel emission and said most vulnerable cities are Colombo, Kandy, Kurunegala, Badulla, Galle and Nuwara Eliya.
`If the vehicle emission testing programme is implemented properly, it would highly impact on the country`s atmosphere and tendency to contract diseases such as asthma, lung cancer, chronic respiratory symptoms will be greatly lowered.`