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Sunday, 10 January 2016

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Increase in emission levy hits Lanka's clean air policy - Experts

The new emission testing levy has created an adverse effect, negatively impacting the industry which does a yeomen service in maintaining Sri Lanka's high environment performance rank in South Asia, emission control industry experts said.

The increase comes in a backdrop where Sri Lanka has been ranked the highest in South East Asia in 2014's Environment Performance Index (EPI) of Yale University.


Beijing City covered with smog - people walking in masks.

Compared with 178 countries, Sri Lanka is in the 69th position scoring 53.88 points out of 100 with Somalia in the last position with 15.47 points. Ranked among the 12 cleanest countries in Asia, Sri Lanka is far ahead of its regional counterparts such as China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Malaysia and Pakistan. Sustaining this position is important to prevent people particularly children falling ill due to air pollution, environmentalists said.

The introduction of mandatory emission testing legislation in 2008 made CleanCoLanka Limited, a pioneer emission testing solution provider operating Drivegreen testing centres. A network of DriveGreen Centres which uses state-of-the-art American equipment imported by Environmental System Product (ESP) serves customers across the island helping conserve air quality.

Project Director, Vehicle Emission Testing, Department of Motor Vehicles, Anura Dissanayake said the Vehicle Emission Trust Fund (ETF) hopes to invest around Rs 100 million on three additional laboratories to test air quality and the Fund continues to support the National Building Research Organization (NBRO) to sample passive air quality.

He said reports clearly indicate that in 2012, sulfur dioxide levels had come down compared to 2009. Despite the huge increase in vehicle use in Sri Lanka, such a reduction is a great achievement made possible only by the introduction of vehicle emission tests, he said.

These encouraging results were achieved despite Central Bank statistics showing that over two million new vehicles have been registered since 2011.

Director and General Manager, CleanCo Lanka Limited, Rajeev de Alwis said the levy has had an adverse affect on them due to the perception that emission testing centres were the beneficiaries of this levy.

De Alwis said 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 licences.

He also scoffed at allegations that the VET process was riddled in malpractices saying there was no room for such allegations.

As the process was privately managed and audited by government agencies, precautions have been put in place to keep it clean. Drive Green emission tests also provide an estimated 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 save on recurrent fuel cost. He called on customers not to resort to malpractices because they will be the end loser.

Senior Operations Manager, DriveGreen, Surendra Perera said proper maintenance would help improve vehicle fuel efficiency, which in turn results in greater savings. The cost of repairing vehicles for emission testing is minimal but the benefit is huge in terms of savings.

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