The exponential growth in vehicle population and dominance of old vintage vehicles on Indian roads make the issue of inspection and maintenance a prime concern in India. In the last decade several aggressive initiatives to control vehicle pollution have been taken in India but most of the steps are directed towards new vehicle emission norms and fuel quality improvements. In major cities there exist a mandatory system for inspection and maintenance but it is now increasingly felt to upgrade the present system to a more effective one in the near future. The existing practice of I&M is described in figure-4. Every commercial vehicle in India has to go for a mandatory fitness test. The renewal period for fitness certification in general is 2 years for new commercial vehicles and every 1-year for old vehicles. For private vehicles no mandatory periodic fitness check is required in India but there exist a system of re-registration of private vehicles after 15 years of initial registration or 1st registration. Thus, after 15 years a private vehicle has to go for fitness to get re-registered which remains valid for the next five years. But, all in-use vehicles are compulsorily required to obtain emission check certificate called Pollution Under Control (PUC). Frequency of this PUC certification system varies from 2 to 4 times a year. This PUC is issued based on conformity to idle emission test for gasoline vehicles and free acceleration smoke test for diesel vehicles.

Fig-4: Existing I&M System in India

6.1 Vehicle Fitness Test

Every commercial vehicle in India has to obtain a mandatory fitness certificate after two years for new vehicles and after every one year for old vehicles. In India, the fitness certification is being carried out by the motor vehicle inspectorate, know as Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) attached to the Transport Department in each state, which has its offices in the Capital as well as in the major cities of the state. For example in Delhi, the Transport Department of the Government of NCT of Delhi has 62 inspectors, 9 of whom are designated as Pollution Control Officers. The RTOs are responsible not only for fitness certification but also for a number of various tasks like new registration, driving licenses, etc.

6.2 Fitness Test Facility

The Transport Departments in India, by and large, depend on visual checks and limited road tests (for checking brakes) for inspecting the vehicles for fitness certification. The Transport Department of NCT, Delhi has set up a modern test facility at a place called Burari, which is meant for testing and certification of commercial vehicles. The center has the following test equipments:

«» Emission measurement systems
«» Brake Tester
«» Head Light Tester
«» Side Slip Tester
«» Computerized Wheel Alignment System
«» Sound Level Meter

Three other centers in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Goa also have similar facilities. However, one center in a city is hardly adequate to cater to the huge population of transport vehicles. Moreover the numbers of vehicle inspectors in the cities are very less and as such these tests rely more on visual checks only and the existing centers like Burari are virtually non-operational.

6.3 Items for Fitness Check

As per the provisions, the following items are required to be tested and certified under fitness test (Table-2):

Table-2: Items for Fitness test




Cut, deformation, threadease were


Gear backlash, kingpin, stub axle, freeplay


Noise Level (85 dB)


Leafspring position, clamping, shock absorber, bushes, shackle, centre bolt


Electrical, bulb, pressure horn


Total brake effort >45%, stopping distance at 30 kmph<13 mtrs, parking brakes


Headlamps, parking, turn signals, top light, reflectors


Chassis & engine no., identification plate, month & year of mfg.


Functioning, speed governors


As per specifications


Fitment & functioning


As per CMVR, DMV rules


Seating, mudguard, emergency gate, window size, glasses, floor, etc.


Insulations, switches, doom light, spark arrester


Riveting, welding, bonnet, crankcase cover, etc.

Road Test

Clutch, transmission, axels & performance


As per specifications


6.4 Existing PUC System in India

Pollution Under Control (PUC) is the existing system of periodic I&M in India which is a mandatory requirement for all categories of on-road vehicles including two wheelers. Under this system a PUC certificate is issued for a vehicle upon conformity to emissions based on idle test for Gasoline vehicles and free acceleration smoke test for diesel vehicles (Figure-5).

Fig-5: PUC limits for different vehicles

6.5 Emission Limits for PUC

The present & proposed emission limits for compliance to PUC certification is outlined in Table-3. At present in India the PUC testing is based on idle tests for gasoline vehicles and free acceleration smoke tests for diesel vehicles.

Table-3: Present & Proposed PUC Limits



















65 HSU

*-Vehicle with Cat. Converter; HC in ppm.


Fee Structure of Fitness
Certification & PUC in India

Vehicle Type

Fee (Rs)

Heavy Commercial Vehicle


Medium Motor Vehicle


Light Motor Vehicle


For Private Vehicles: Fee Taken once during initial registration (purchase)

Fee For PUC Certification

All Petrol Vehicles


All Diesel Vehicles


Minor Modification (Ptrl. Vcls Only)



6.7 Penalty for Non-Compliance

A vehicle, found to be not in possession of a valid PUC Certificate can be prosecuted under Section 190(2) of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1998. A penalty of Rs.1000/- for first offence and Rs.2000/- for every subsequent offence of violation has been provided. The offence is compoundable with a fine of Rs.900/- for first offence and Rs.1800/- for subsequent offence.

6.8 Drawbacks of Fitness Certification in India

The menace of exhaust emissions from old vintage on-road vehicles and increasing number of road accidents (Figure-6) call for a comprehensive and efficient vehicle fitness certification system in India. Though there exist a system of fitness certification, proper implementation and functioning of the system has been a concern for long. The existing system being inefficient and inclined more to visual checks encourage false passes and corruptions. Concerns of road accidents due to mechanical failure of vehicles and problems of vehicle fitness can only be tackled by putting in place sufficient numbers of testing centers in each states.

Figure-6: Traffic Accidents in India


Some of the gaps in the existing system are outlined below:

«» Lack of adequate testing facility. Only one center exists in some cities, which obviously cannot cater to the huge vehicle population of the state.
«» Number of vehicle inspectors is very less. More trained inspectors need to be inducted by the Transport Departments.
«» Only commercial vehicles are required to go for fitness tests. All categories of vehicles should be brought under the ambit of fitness testing.
«» Fitness is more a practice in paper then in reality. This gives scope for corruption, which exist in the system in India.

Considering the above problems in India, more stress for setting up better test facilities are required. Experiences of other countries may play a vital role in designing an efficient fitness testing system. Private participation may also be considered for better functioning of the test centers.

6.9 Lacunae of the Present System

The present Pollution Under Control (PUC) system has number of lacunae owing to which the system is not effective in reducing emissions from on-road vehicles. Some of the associated problems with the system are:

«» The test procedures currently used do not represent typical driving conditions, and hence the emissions levels measurement cannot be used to generate an emission profile of in-use vehicles.
«» PUC center operators are not sufficiently trained.
«» No auditing and quality assurance is carried out at the test centers and as a result the measurements are not reproducible from center to center.
«» Scope for false passes exists in this system.

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