The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to file an affidavit on a plea on the issue of air pollution and questioned the subsidy on diesel and imposition of 150 per cent import duty on electric cars in India.A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan asked the government to file its affidavit within four weeks in the matter and said it would look into these issues.At the outset, Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, representing the Centre, sought some time to file an affidavit in the matter.Advocate Gopal Shankarnarayanan, appearing for some of the petitioners, told the bench that something was needed to be done on the continuance of subsidy on diesel in the country since the sale of diesel vehicles have risen from 30 per cent to nearly 65 per cent in Delhi alone.
"The other issue is of import duty on electric vehicles. In India, there is 150 per cent import duty on electric vehicles," he said.Meanwhile, Nadkarni told the bench that issues raised by the petitioners regarding pollution from crop burning and vehicular pollution was already being dealt with by another bench of the apex court headed by Justice Madan B Lokur.
To this, Shankarnarayanan told the bench that issues regarding subsidy on diesel and import duty on electric vehicles were not being dealt with by the other bench."Let us see what the Union of India says in its reply. We know there are other causes which are bigger. We will look into that," the bench said and posted the matter for hearing after four weeks.
Shankarnarayanan also told the bench that despite the apex court's order banning sale of firecrackers in the Delhi-national capital region (NCR) last Diwali, more crackers were burst.To this, the counsel representing the firecracker manufacturers raised the issue of Chinese fireworks in the country.
The Centre also informed the bench that the Ministry of Women and Child Development supported the petitioners who have sought a series of steps to curb air pollution, including ban on sale, possession and bursting of firecrackers across India.The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had in January told the apex court that despite the ban on sale of crackers in Delhi-NCR, air quality worsened in the national capital due to fireworks during Diwali last year.
A report submitted in the court said that as per a study carried out before and after Diwali, specific ill-effects of firecrackers couldn't be substantiated and a long-term study would be required.The short-term study was conducted by experts entrusted by the CPCB at the time when sale of fire crackers was banned in Delhi-NCR by the top court from October 9 last year. CPCB had said that both PM 10 and PM 2.5 increased 2-3.5 fold on Diwali day in comparison to seven days before the festival.
The top court had last year constituted a committee, headed by the chairperson of CPCB, to conduct a research on the impact of the fire crackers during the festive season of Dussehra and Diwali on the health of people and submit a report by December 31 last year.The top court had on October 9 last year said that no firecrackers would be sold in the Delhi-NCR during Diwali while banning its sale till November 1, 2017. It had said that its earlier order, temporarily lifting the stay and permitting the sale of firecrackers, would be made effective only from November 1, 2017.
The apex court, in its October 9 order, had said the November 11, 2016 order suspending licences for sale of fireworks "should be given one chance to test itself" to see whether it had a positive effect, particularly during Diwali.On September 12 this year, the top court had temporarily lifted its order suspending the permanent licences for sale of firecrackers in NCR, saying a complete ban would be an"extreme step" and a graded approach was needed to curb pollution caused by themThe court, in its last year's direction, had suspended all licenses which permits sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail within the territory of NCR till further orders.