The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a suggestion to ban entry of all diesel-run trucks, except those carrying essential goods, into the national capital and asked the Centre as well as the Delhi government to come up with “common minimum acceptable programmes” on the issue after consulting all stakeholders.
“This is a very serious issue and we are earning a bad name in the world for Delhi being the most polluted city,” a bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and justice R Banumathi said on Thursday.
The suggestion has come from senior advocate Harish Salve that diesel-run trucks be banned for six weeks to see as to whether it makes “perceptible” change in the already worsened air quality as an interim measure.
Salve, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in PIL filed by environmentalist MC Mehta in 1984 on the issue, said trucks, except those carrying essential goods into Delhi, can be banned in pursuance of the 2001 order of the apex court.
“We will be happy if you (Centre) can provide a platform to all stakeholders to prevent the problem and come out with common minimum acceptable programmes... There cannot be a single solution to this problem, there have to be multi-pronged approach and suggestions to defuse pollution crisis. The odd and even number policy is only as an emergency measure,” the bench said.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led government had said earlier this month that it allow cars with odd and even registration numbers on alternate days from January 1 to bring down dangerous levels of pollution in the air after being pulled up by the Delhi high court.
It sought the views of all stakeholders, including the Centre, Delhi government, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and asked them to prepare a common minimum acceptable plan to address the issue of pollution saying the absence of a proper plan is now getting reflected.
The apex court said that the intolerable limit of pollution is earning a “bad name” to Delhi as “the most polluted city in the world”.
“It is very embarrassing for us when foreign dignitaries visiting Delhi speak about the capital’s high pollution level,” it said and gave an example of a visiting judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) referring to the issue.
The SC will hear Salve’s submissions on December 15.
Hours later, speaking at a National Human Rights Commission function to commemorate the Human Rights Day, CJI Thakur said that the increasing level of pollution in the Capital was a violation of basic human rights.
“If someone is spoiling the environment, he is violating the rights of others. Right to a pollution free environment and clean drinking water are part of the right to life,” he said in his first public appearance since taking on the role of the CJI.
(With agency inputs)