By: Meghna Chowdhury
Though the Central government proposes to ban two-stroke engines, autorickshaws and motorcycles fitted with these engines continue to ply in various parts of the country, especially Karnataka. Autorickshaw drivers say they are unaware of the proposed ban and the pollution caused by two-stroke engines.
Two-stroke engines produce a lot of pollution, it is harmful to the environment and the way the engine is designed that part of the air/fuel leaks out of the chamber through the exhaust port, which is why you see a small thin film, or sheen, of oil around any two-stroke outboard motor, and this leaking oil is a real mess for the environment. This is the reason why the Central Government decided to ban them. Moreover, two-stroke engines use a lot of fuel. Nagaraj Kumar, the driver of an autorickshaw with a two-stroke engine, informed The Observer: “I am not aware whether it is banned or not. I use it as it is in good condition.” But he added, “I often have to go a garage and find it difficult to get parts for the two-stroke engine. They are not available in a lot of places.” “After this engine gives up, I have to buy a four-stroke autorickshaw,” driver Kiran from Bengaluru, said.
Two-stroke engines require only two piston movements in order to generate power. Studies have found out that two-stroke engines generate a lot of smoke and increase air pollution. The smoke they emit is four times more hazardous than that generated by four-stroke engines.
Autorickshaws with two-stroke engines emit a lot of smoke that is black in color and smell of burning fuel. Balaji R, who runs an autorickshaw with a two-stroke engine, said it emits a pungent smell and smoke, and he has to take the vehicle to a garage to have its engine cleaned.
M.S. Prakash, an assistant sub-inspector at the Karnataka traffic police headquarters, said: “In new autorickshaws that are being manufactured, no two-stroke engines are being used. The vehicles with two-stroke engines out there are the last ones remaining. The new autorickshaws have four-stroke engines. It is the same case with bikes and cars.”
According to an article that appeared in The Hindu: “As the pollution levels are increasing, the Transport Department has decided to ban two-stroke autorickshaws in the city from April 1, 2018.” But the government extended the deadline to 2020 on realizing that more than 30,000 autorickshaws would be affected by the proposed ban.
Hardly any two-stroke engines are available in the market. “The number of autorickshaws with two-stroke engines is coming down slowly. Therefore, we expect that soon no two-stroke engines will be out there on the roads,” an official with the Koramangala RTO, said.
Dr. H.S. Lokeshwari, chief scientific officer of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, said: “It would be a very good idea if the Karnataka government banned two-stroke engines totally. The amount of smoke and poisonous gases coming out from a two-stroke engine is much more compared to that from a four-stroke engine. Two-stroke engines also create a lot of noise pollution. The ban is still a plan in action, and it is a proposed ban.”
According to the Indian Environmental Portal, there is a high level of hydrocarbons in the smoke produced by two-stroke engines. Dr. Sateesh V., an associate professor at the Rajarajeshwari College of Engineering and an expert in automobile engineering, said: “It would be a good idea to ban something that creates so much pollution. But if you can work on the two-stroke engine and make it less polluting, even that is a good idea.”
Sateesh and his students are working on a project to operate a four-stroke diesel engine using vegetable oils, along with petrol or diesel. He said it would create less pollution. Dr. Lokeshwari said: “The central government is proposing a ban on BS-IV engines used in cars and implementing the use of BS-VI engines as they create less pollution and only good-quality fuel can be used in them.”
An article in the Deccan Herald said: “About two and a half years ago, the transport department had made it clear that two-stroke engine autorickshaws emit a lot of smoke. Hence, it was made mandatory for all new autorickshaws to run on LPG, or to have four-stroke engines, to bring down emission levels and to phase out the two-stroke engine autos simultaneously…. But these autorickshaws continue to ply on the roads.” It is still expected to be completely phased out by ’20