The Supreme Court banned on Wednesday the registration of new diesel-guzzling luxury cars and SUVs with engine capacity of 2000 cc and above until March 31 in the national capital region, unveiling a raft of measures to clean up Delhi’s toxic air.
The ruling was one of several far-reaching judgments the Supreme Court delivered on governance issues even as political bickering over Tuesday’s CBI raid at Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s office dominated Parliament.
The court, however allowed plying of existing diesel cars during the ban period.
The apex court’s decision effectively stops the sale of several popular vehicle brands besides hurting luxury car-makers across the board as most of their best-sellers are diesel-driven.
An SC bench headed by chief justice TS Thakur also banned the entry of trucks registered before 2005 into the city and hiked up by 100% the Green cess levied on commercial vehicles entering Delhi.
Besides, any commercial vehicle not bound for Delhi will no longer be allowed to enter the city while all taxis and cab services -- Ola, Uber or otherwise -- will have to shift to CNG by March 31.
The top court’s rulings came a day after the chief justice noted that the rich cannot be allowed to pollute the Capital.
“Diesel vehicles of 2000 cc and above and SUVs are generally used by more affluent sections of our society and because of the higher engine capacity are more prone to cause higher levels of pollution. A ban on registration of such vehicles will not therefore affect the common man,” the bench said.
It, however, permitted registration of new commercial light duty diesel vehicles on the ground the public was dependent on them for supply of essentials.
The court said its directive will likely be reviewed in April next year when Euro 4-compliant diesel engines with improved emission standards are introduced. The bench made it clear that buyers would have to ultimately pay environment compensation cess (ECC) on the purchase of every diesel car with smaller engine capacity.
The order comes days after the Delhi government announced a radical road rationing formula -– to be implemented from January 1 -- wherein odd and even numbered cars will be kept off the roads on alternate days.
Delhi has 8.5 million vehicles — up 97% from 2000 — and adds 1,400 new cars to its streets every day, contributing to a hazardous blanket of smog that intensifies during the winter months, triggering a slew of respiratory and life-threatening diseases.
The Delhi government has already announced more measures to curb pollution — vacuum-cleaning of roads by April and phasing out two thermal power plants.
The court also asked the Centre to take a compassionate view towards the Delhi Police personnel manning the streets – especially the traffic constable – and provide them with masks so that they do not fall ill.
Taking a dig at the ongoing tussle between the two government’s over who controls Delhi Police, the court told the Delhi government and Centre’s counsel, “You should not fight over this, at least.”