In a strong step to release the stranglehold of air pollution on the Capital city, the Supreme Court on Wednesday imposed a ban on the registration of diesel-run private cars of the capacity of 2000 CC and above and SUVs, noting that these vehicles are used by the rich and the common man or average citizen will hardly feel the pinch.
The 11-page order by a bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur reasoned that these high-end diesel vehicles were more prone to cause higher levels of pollution.
“We accordingly direct that Registration of SUVs and private cars of the capacity of 2000 CC and above using diesel as fuel shall stand banned in the NCR up to March 31, 2016,” Chief Justice Thaur pronounced the order, which overcomes any other order passed by other courts or tribunals, including the NGT.
The ban however would not affect new commercial light duty diesel vehicles for the present. This category of vehicles would continue to be registered in Delhi on account of the dependence of the public on them for supply of essentials.
The court further ordered that all taxis including those operating under aggregators like OLA and UBER in the NCT of Delhi, plying under city permits, shall move to C.N.G. not later than March 1, 2016.
The Supreme Court further noted how its earlier direction on October 9, 2015 to levy Environment Compensation Cess (ECC) was meant as a deterrent for commercial vehicles not bound for Delhi from entering the Capital city. Instead, the apex court realised that the order was construed to mean that these commercial vehicles could enter after paying the cess.
“The direction appears to have been understood to mean as though vehicles not bound for Delhi could also enter Delhi provided they pay ECC. The true intention, however, was that the vehicles that are not bound for Delhi are diverted to alternative routes to bypass Delhi. The levy of ECC has no doubt resulted in some diversion of such vehicles but a very large number of vehicles not bound for Delhi still appear to be entering Delhi on payment of ECC, stipulated by us,” the Supreme Court observed.
In the circumstances, the Supreme Court clarified that commercial vehicles not bound for Delhi will be allowed to enter from N.H.-8 which connects Jaipur to Delhi and N.H.-1 that connects the States of Punjab, Haryana and other northern States to Delhi via Kundli border.
“We are limiting the restraint order to these two entry points for the present because from the figures given to us the largest number of vehicles that are entering into Delhi are from these two entry points. We according direct that traffic from these two entry points viz. Kundli border on N.H.-1 and Rajokri on N.H.-8, shall be diverted to bypass Delhi through such alternative routes as the transport/traffic departments of the governments concerned may stipulate,” it said.
The court further held that empty/unladen vehicles bound for Delhi, can enter Delhi on payment of the ECC earlier stipulated by the court at Rs.700 for light vehicles and Rs.1300 for four-axle ones.
However, the court held that goods-laden commercial vehicles vehicles entering Delhi would have to pay twice the current ECC. This, it said, was meant to “discourage any vehicle trying to enter Delhi on a false pretext of the goods loaded on it being Delhi bound”.
It further said that commercial vehicles registered in the year 2005 or earlier would also not qualify to enter Delhi and shold be turned back by the neighbouring States and Union Territories. “The governments will evolve a suitable system for implementation of this direction,” the Supreme Court said.
The court directed the Delhi government to take immediate steps for procurement of the requisite vacuum cleaning vehicles for use on Delhi roads by not later than April 1, 2016.
The court said norms of construction work prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board, including putting up curtains and other devices at construction sites, should be strictly enforced to reduce dust. The court further ordered the local bodies and Delhi government to ensure that no solid waste is burnt and they are disposed off in a non-hazardous scientific manner.
The court scheduled a hearing for Janury 5, 2016 to hear the grievances of the toll contractor SMYR Consortium LTD on the collection of ECC. E