The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to modify its December order banning registration of large diesel vehicles in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) in view of the alarming air pollution levels.
A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur had on December 16 ordered a ban on sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and luxury cars with the engine capacity of 2000cc or higher, a move that was pleaded against by top car manufacturers.
A plea asking for a revision of the order was filed by Toyota, Mahindra and Mahindra, and Mercedes, claiming that their cars did not cause much pollution.
“Do your cars emit oxygen?” the bench remarked as it directed the three car manufacturers to submit documentary evidence that pollution from their vehicles equaled those of petrol engines.
The top court also banned the entry of heavy commercial vehicles from four additional entry points at NH 2, NH 10, NH 58 and state highway 57 which connects Ghaziabad to Baghpat. In an earlier order, the apex court had restricted the entry of trucks not bound for Delhi through NH1 and NH8.
However, the court allowed entry of such vehicles which are Delhi-bound on payment of a pollution cess.
The measure reinforces the Delhi government’s crusade against air pollution with its 15-day trial of an even-odd formula for cars plying on Capital roads.
The court also directed the city government to appropriately award No-Objection Certificates (NOCs) to 10-year-old diesel vehicles and 16-year-old petrol vehicles being sold outside the NCR.
Furthermore, it expressed its displeasure at the Centre over government agencies and department vehicles contributing to pollution too, asking why they should not be phased out.
“You are using vehicles older than five to 10 years. Are they not polluting, should they not be removed?”
The central government counsel sought time to seek instruction on the issue.
According to industry experts, about 400,000 units of diesel vehicles with two-litres or heavier engines are sold in the country annually and of these five to eight percent are sold in the NCR.
Data shared by the company (from the Delhi government’s website) show that of the 2.64 million cars registered in the National Capital Territory until March 2015, 1.42 million were of BS II, the government-mandated Bharat Stage emissions standard. The current required standard is BS IV.