Deploring the ambient air quality in Delhi and its surrounding areas, the National Green Tribunal on Monday sought the Delhi Government’s views on taking off the roads diesel vehicles that are over 10 years old.
The Tribunal also sought “the exact number of diesel vehicles on Delhi roads and their impact on ambient air quality”. It noted that levels of nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and benzene, a by-product of diesel burning, exceeded prescribed standards.
“Presence of pollutants in the ambient air quality of Delhi is a matter of concern for all stakeholders. Human health is a right to life and this must take precedence over all other commercial and infrastructure projects. The existing state of affairs, as the scientific data undoubtedly indicated the problem, is very severe and its results would be ghastly.”
On November 26, 2014, the NGT had ordered that all vehicles — diesel or petrol, public or private — that are over 15 years old shall not be permitted to ply on the roads. “The NCT of Delhi to submit its views as to why all diesel vehicles, whether commercial or personal, plying in Delhi for over 10 years be not taken off Delhi roads,” NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar ordered on Monday.
Following a Tribunal order, the Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee had earlier this month randomly inspected 15 old and 15 new low-floor DTC buses. It was discovered that six buses did not adhere to the prescribed pollution control checks. Leaving no scope for a lackadaisical attitude, the Tribunal ordered that “all six buses be taken forthwith off the Delhi roads”.
Meanwhile, an NGO had moved court praying that hawkers and vendors not be removed from the streets in Lajpat Nagar in the name of decongestion of roads and easing traffic to cut pollution. The Traffic Police had proposed earlier this month that rickshaw-pullers and street vendors be removed from Lajpat Nagar as they were causing traffic congestion.
“Everybody comes claiming this is my right. Nobody is opposed to rickshaw-pullers and street vendors. Everybody knows it is very hard on their life. You see the situation in Lajpat Nagar. An 80 feet road is reduced to mere 10 feet,” the Bench remarked.
On the continuing lack of parking, encroachment on roads and lack of proper traffic regulation, the NGT added: “We are pained to note that despite our repeated persuasive and then mandatory orders, the authorities concerned have not risen to the occasion for taking proper and effective steps, The response was lacking will, bonafide and finding faults with different departments has been the essence of defence before us.” It, however, granted the Public Works Department, Delhi Government and Delhi Police one last opportunity to carry out its orders.
The NGT was informed that parking in Lajpat Nagar has not been permitted yet. It directed that parking in area be permitted forthwith. The NGT had ordered that single lane parking be allowed there. It also directed that loading and unloading of goods in all markets, particularly those like Karol Bagh, Chandni Chowk etc., be not allowed from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.