Emission levy jolt Lanka’s clean air policy –experts

2015-12-31 18:30:00

Imposing the proposed emission testing levy by the government has created an adverse effect, negatively impacting the industry which does a yeoman service in maintaining Sri Lanka’s high environment performance ranking in South Asia, emission control industry experts say.

The emission levy introduced in the Budget 2016 comes in a backdrop where Sri Lanka has been ranked highest in South East Asia in 2014’s Environment Performance Index (EPI) of Yale University.

When compared with 178 countries in the world Sri Lanka stands in the 69th position scoring 53.88 points of 100 with Somalia in the last position with 15.47 points. Ranking among the 12 cleanest countries in Asia, Sri Lanka stands far ahead of regional counterparts such as China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Malaysia and Pakistan. Sustaining this position is very important to prevent people particularly children getting affected and falling ill due to air pollution, environmentalists say.

However the introduction of mandatory emission testing legislation in 2008 by the government saw CleanCoLanka Limited emerge as a pioneer emission testing solution provider operating Drivegreen testing centres.

A network of DriveGreen Centres which uses American made state of art equipment imported from Environmental System Product (ESP) serve customers across the island helping conserve the pristine air quality of Sri Lanka.

Anura Dissanayake, Project Director, Vehicle Emission Testing, Department of Motor Vehicles commenting on the emission test levy introduced by the government in Budget 2016 said they had not received a circular as yet as to how the mechanism works and it was therefore too early to comment on it.
He said the Vehicle Emission Trust Fund (ETF) plans to shortly invest around Rs 100 million on three additional laboratories to test air quality. Meanwhile, the fund continues to support the National Building Research Organization (NBRO) to continue with the passive sampling air quality measurements. He said reports clearly indicate that in 2012 sulfur dioxide levels has come down when compared to 2009. Despite the huge increase in vehicles in use in Sri Lanka, such a reduction is a great achievement made possible only by the introduction of vehicle emission tests, he added. 

These encouraging results have been achieved despite Central Bank statistics showing that more than 2 million new vehicles been registered and roaming the streets in Sri Lanka since 2011. Commenting on the latest developments Rajeev De Alwis, Director \ General Manager CleanCo Lanka Limited said the levy has had a very adverse effect on them due the perception that emission testing centres were the beneficiaries of this levy. De Alwis clarified saying they had nothing to do with the emission testing levy and that it has to be paid directly to the divisional secretariats at the time of obtaining vehicle revenue licenses.
De Alwis also scoffed at allegations that the VET process was immersed in malpractices saying there was no room for such allegations. “We take a very strict zero tolerance policy on malpractices,” he says. He went on to state that because the process was privately managed and audited by government agencies, possible precautions have been put in place to keep it clean. Moreover, Drive Green emission tests provide anestimated fuel wastage report, which gives vehicle owners a clear idea of their vehicles’ fuel efficiency.

Incorrect or doctored reports are an exercise in self deception, and deny vehicle owners the ability to take corrective measures to rectify the issue which enables then to save on the recurrent fuel cost. Therefore he requested customers not to resort to malpractices because they will be the end loser.

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