New Delhi, Dec 16: Amid mounting concerns over alarming pollution levels, the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Dec 15, day indicated that it may bar registration of diesel-run SUVs, cars with engine capacity of over 2000 cc and commercial vehicles for three-four months, besides hiking by 100 per cent green cess levied on trucks entering Delhi.
The court had on October 12 ordered that light duty vehicles would have to pay Rs 700 and three-axle vehicles Rs 1,300 to enter Delhi in addition to the toll tax from November 1 as 'Environment Compensation Charge' (ECC) in a bid to check high pollution levels in the city.
A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said that it it may increase by 100 per cent the ECC on commercial vehicles using Delhi roads as a transit for their onward journey to destinations outside the national capital.
Now, the light duty vehicles may have to pay Rs 1400 and three-axle vehicles Rs 2,600 as ECC for entering Delhi.
The bench, also including Justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi, is likely to pronounce the interim directions tomorrow as it today ran out of time.
During the three-hour-long hearing, the bench asked the counsel representing Centre and the Delhi government to come out with comprehensive long and short term plans to tackle the menace of air pollution.
"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," it said.
The court said that as an interim measure for three-four months, it may ban registration of SUVs, high-end cars having engine capacity of over 2000 cc, besides banning entry of commercial vehicles, registered prior to 2005, in Delhi.
It also said that only CNG cabs may be allowed to run on Delhi roads and the ban on burning of the municipal waste be enforced strictly, besides introduction of Euro-IV emission norms. The bench was hearing various pleas including the 1984 PIL filed by environmentalist M C Mehta.
On the issue of Delhi government's "odd-even" plan for alternately allowing private vehicles to ply, the bench said, "We cannot say anything on it. We are not too sure that this is the only way. This is one of the measures. It is for you (Delhi Govt ) to implement."
The CJI, however, observed that "he won't hesitate" to car pool with "brother judges". The court also said that it would direct the apex court registry to provide a bicycle stand as desired by senior advocate K T S Tulsi.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae, said that the "Euro IV fuel was not available" and cars conforming to Euro IV emission standards "can be (for the time being) permitted on national highways."
On being asked by the court, Salve said that the Central government said that it will not be introduced before 2020 as it involves revamping of refineries to produce compatible fuel.
During the hearing Salve said that the blame "must lie" with diesel vehicles as 30 per cent of vehicles in Delhi run on diesel.
Opposing the submission of amicus, senior advocate Dushyant Dave said that the diesel vehicles formed a "small part of the overall number of vehicles" and they should not be targeted.
He said that any curbs on diesel vehicles would have a chain reaction involving thousands of workers and huge investments and curbs on diesel-run vehicles were an "impractical solution".
However, the bench disagreed with the submission and said, "It is a very large number. They are polluting the city". Salve said that one diesel car is equal to eight petrol cars.
"They are businessmen. They want to make money. The lives of the people are at stake", the bench said.
Recently, the National Green Tribunal has directed that diesel-run vehicles will not be registered in Delhi with immediate effect and asked the central and state government departments not to purchase diesel vehicles.
Simultaneously, the apex court stepping into the raging debate on pollution and agreed to examine a suggestion to ban entry of all diesel-run trucks, except those carrying essential goods, into the national capital.