CJI moves to crack down: Not fair for rich to buy luxury cars, pollute

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New Delhi | Updated: Dec 16, 2015 6:57 AM

"Why don't you people take credit of cleaning Delhi air? You could enumerate the steps to be taken and why you are asking the court to do it," the Supreme Court bench hearing the PIL said.

Supreme CourtLast week, the National Green Tribunal, in an interim order, banned registration of diesel vehicles in Delhi till January 6, while also suggesting that the central and Delhi governments must stop buying diesel cars in the city. (Reuters)

A ban on registration of diesel SUVs and high-end vehicles with engine capacity of over 2000 cc for an initial period of three months, strict curbs on diesel vehicles which are over 10 years old, 100 per cent hike in the green cess levied on commercial vehicles entering Delhi — these are some of the measures set to be issued by the Supreme Court to tackle rising pollution in Delhi.

Underlining that “it is not fair for the rich to buy luxury cars and pollute Delhi”, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India

T S Thakur said on Tuesday that the latest drive to clean the environment should begin from the “rich and affluent” who can afford to contribute more towards the environment than the common man who may have just one car.

The bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi, is set to pronounce the detailed order on Wednesday.

Starting January 1, the bench said, registration of diesel CJI moves to crack down: Not fair for rich to buy luxury cars, pollute vehicles with engine capacity of over 2000 cc shall be banned for an initial period of three months.

People will not be allowed to bypass this injunction by getting their vehicles registered in Noida, Gurgaon or any other adjoining areas in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Last week, the National Green Tribunal, in an interim order, banned registration of diesel vehicles in Delhi till January 6, while also suggesting that the central and Delhi governments must stop buying diesel cars in the city.

Snubbing the counsel for a diesel car dealer who had opposed the ban, the apex court said: “People’s life is at stake and you are interested in selling cars and making money. Car dealers should be ready to make sacrifices now.”

According to an affidavit filed by the government in the apex court last year, diesel-driven vehicles account for over 90 per cent of SUVs in India, 34 per cent of small cars and 70 per cent of large/ medium cars.

The court said some orders would have to be passed to ensure diesel vehicles which are over 10 years old do not continue to pollute the environment. It said it may make a differentiation between private vehicles and commercial vehicles in this category.

The bench also said the environment compensatory cess levied on commercial vehicles entering Delhi would be doubled — from Rs 700 to Rs 1,400 for light commercial vehicles and from Rs 1,300 to Rs 2,600 for heavy commercial vehicles.

Agreeing with most of the suggestions mooted by amicus curiae Harish Salve, the bench said taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber must use only CNG vehicles.

During the four-hour-long hearing, the apex court also stressed the need to ensure vehicles in Delhi use at least Euro IV-ready fuel.

The court said it would completely prohibit burning of solid waste in the open by individuals as well as public authorities, and may also issue directives to check dust particles emanating from construction sites.

As Delhi government’s advocate S W A Qadri sought the court’s nod to implement the odd-even car scheme, the bench said: “Who is stopping you from implementing it? You do it on your own. You don’t need our approval for this. We will also see how it works.”

The bench also asked the counsel representing the Centre and the Delhi government to come out with comprehensive long-term and short-term plans to tackle the menace of air pollution.

“You should do it voluntarily… You could enumerate the steps to be taken but you are letting this opportunity slip off your hands,” it said.

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