DELHI: In another directive to clean up the polluted air in the capital, Supreme Court on Tuesday came out with harsh measures including specifying four more entry points through which no heavy commercial vehicle, unless bound for Delhi, will be allowed entry.
“We are not concerned with any other aspect. We are only concerned with the environment,” the bench said, ordering, “we direct that no heavy commercial vehicles, except those which are bound for Delhi, shall be allowed to enter through entry points at National Highway 2, 10, 58 and State Highway 57.”
The fresh prohibition will restrict heavy traffic inflow in Delhi from Faridabad, Palwal, Ghaziabad and Baghpat. The court, on December 16, had restricted the entry of commercial vehicles into Delhi from NH-8 which connects Jaipur to Delhi and NH-1 that connects the states of Punjab, Haryana and other northern States to Delhi via Kundli border.
The bench directed the Centre, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, National Highways Authority of India and MCD to implement its directions and ensure that no inconvenience is caused to the public. It also sought a report in three weeks.
Refusing to change its order asking all NCR taxis to convert to CNG by March 31, the bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi sought response from the Centre as to whether it can leapfrog by replacing the existing Bharat Stage (BS)-IV emission norms by BS-VI straightaway by 2017. It also said that BS-VI will bring the country under the ambit of the tighter pollution control standard.
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, representing the Centre, said it would be difficult as it would need upgradation of refineries and moreover, the government has decided to implement BS-IV emission norms in the entire country from April 2017.
The bench clarified that its earlier order banning registration of diesel vehicles would not come in the way of issuing no-objection certificates for 10-year-old diesel vehicles for the purpose of owners to sell them outside the NCR region and the same would apply for over 15-year-old petrol vehicles as well.
The court, which will again hear the matter on January 20, also did not spare the central government and asked it about its plans and willingness to phase out 5-10 year old diesel vehicles. It asked the Solicitor General to get instruction on “whether the Government of India is willing to phase out five to ten year old vehicles running on diesel.”
The bench, while scrutinising implementation of its earlier directions, asked Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), to consider increasing frequency of trains to meet the extra rush of passengers due to the implementation of Delhi Government’s Odd-Even scheme. It also asked the Solicitor General to take instruction from DMRC as to whether it can consider having “premium coaches” in its trains to assure more comfortable journey to affluent people who are being forced to leave their cars due to the Odd-Even scheme.
“You can have five-six time high fares. Persons, leaving cars, should be assured seats and the fact that they will not be pushed around in trains,” it said.
The court, on December 16, had unveiled a slew of measures to curb the alarming rise in pollution levels in the national capital. It has barred registration of diesel-run sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and high-end private cars with engine capacity of 2000 CC and above in Delhi and National Capital Region till March 31, 2016.
The court also directed 100 per cent hike in Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) being levied on light and heavy commercial vehicles entering Delhi. It had directed that “all taxis including those operating under aggregators like OLA and UBER in the NCT of Delhi, plying under city permits shall move to CNG not later than March one, 2016.” It, however, had exempted passenger vehicles, ambulances and vehicles carrying essential commodities like food stuffs and oil tankers for Delhi from paying the ECC.
The court was hearing various pleas including a 1984 PIL filed by environmentalist M C Mehta on the issue.