Supreme Court asks Centre to urgently act on air pollution in Delhi

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New Delhi, Nov 29: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to act urgently on a plea for second generation reforms, including advancing Euro-IV and charging extra cess on purchase of private-owned diesel vehicles, among other measures to check growing air pollution in the capital.

"The request made by amicus curiae be considered and implemented. The ASG is to take instruction from the office of the central government. He will persuade persons concerned to look into the suggestions and if possible, implement them," the bench was quoted as saying in Deccan Herald. The Court has put the matter for further consideration for January 9.

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A day after the National Green Tribunal ordered a number of steps to check the rising level of air pollution in Delhi, experts on Friday demanded innovative institutional measures to address the problem of traffic density and the role of vehicular emission in raising air pollution across India.

The experts also maintained that India should emulate the Singapore model to discourage vehicle ownership to respond to the problem of congested cities.

The country that has cities like Delhi with 7.2 million vehicles on its roads today need a "holistic response" with innovative measures to create a "demand for public transportation" and decongest its cities, said Shreekant Gupta, associate professor at Delhi School of Economics.

At a workshop organized by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the experts discussed the pernicious effects of continued dieselization, dirty diesel, and the road ahead for India to have carbon emission standards that would help the country advance towards Euro V and VI standards.

The transport sector that is the largest user of poor quality diesel is contributing to the problem of foul air that people are breathing, they said.

Though the regulation of diesel price and its consequent drop in the price differential between petrol and diesel has affected the rate of increase in dieselization, low tax diesel continues to lure consumers, a CSE release said.

The organisation had demanded additional tax measures to control dieselization and create a clean fuel fund to introduce clean diesel, resulting in lowering the health risk to the public.

It is upon the government, said experts, to introduce institutional measures to decongest cities and ensure toxin-free air.

Gupta proposed to compliment the move to encourage public transport with measures to discourage private ownership of vehicles. A high fee at the time of vehicle registration as there is competition for limited road space could serve the purpose, he said.

Electronic road pricing, a form of congestion pricing in Singapore to control vehicular entry into high traffic zones, is another innovative way that was discussed.

In their contribution towards clean diesel, oil refineries must receive a subsidy to switch to a technology that complies with the Euro V standards to ensure clean air, said RK Malhotra, former director, R&D, Indian Oil Corporation.

(With inputs from agencies)

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