BPO employees too breathe polluted air: SC

You are in the ‘business of pollution’, Bench tells car makers

May 09, 2016 11:31 pm | Updated October 18, 2016 02:18 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Telling leading car manufacturers that they are in the “business of pollution,” the Supreme Court on Monday appealed to thousands of BPO employees to co-operate with its ban on diesel cabs, saying they breathe the same polluted air as any other citizen of Delhi while their owners sit somewhere abroad making millions.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S Thakur was responding to car manufacturer Toyota’s arguments on how the ban on diesel-run cabs would affect the country’s economy.

“The nation is suffering. Business of BPOs is mostly done at night. Employees have to be ferried in these taxis,” senior advocate Kapil Sibal declared in his submissions.

'Nation is suffering'

“The nation is suffering? These employees you talk of who travel in the taxis breathe the same air as us while their owners sit somewhere abroad making millions ... You also need to co-operate. This is not an adverse litigation,” Chief Justice Thakur responded.

Solicitor-General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Centre, said vehicles cause only eight to 10 per cent of Delhi’s pollution.

At this, Chief Justice Thakur asked Mr. Kumar at point blank, “Tell us, what is the level of concern you [the Centre] have for the environment?”

“You have prescribed standards ... How are you enforcing them? If there was enforcement in the country, this would have been a different country?” Chief Justice Thakur observed.

Catalytic converters

The court, at one point, even asked Mr. Kumar what his client’s take was on installing catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters in existing diesel vehicles.

To this, Mr. Kumar responded that the government was promoting ‘Make in India’ and manufacturers of these devices would have to meet the standards set by the scheme in India.

The court said it would focus primarily on vehicular pollution and indicated that it was even willing to “modify” its blanket ban on fresh registration of diesel SUVs and cars with over 2000CC engine capacity.

“Assuming that diesel is more polluting, we are open to modification, but not unconditionally. Persons purchasing diesel vehicles should be made to know that they are doing so at a cost,” Chief Justice Thakur observed.

Following the dictum of the ‘polluter pays principle’, the Bench said such buyers should be made to pay a one-time cess for opting for a diesel vehicle.

The court decided to hear on May 10 the petitions filed by the Delhi government and the Centre seeking modification of the April 30 order banning diesel cabs in Delhi.

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