In a wake-up call to automobile giants to contribute their bit to curb rising pollution levels in Delhi and NCR, the Supreme Court said on Thursday that a collective effort is needed to clean up the air.
A bench headed by Justice MB Lokur had on March 29 banned sale and registration of BS-III vehicles from April 1, when the new emission norms came into force. It rejected the argument of automobile makers that the government notification did not prohibit sale but manufacturing of old fuel technology vehicles.
In its detailed judgement released on Thursday, the bench outlined the reasons for imposing the ban, saying the court can’t shut its eyes to the “phenomenal rise” in the pollution levels in Delhi, which, as per a study, is the most toxic city to live in. The court said it was not concerned about just the current population, but also of future generations who have an “entitlement to breathe pollution-free air.”
Studies pointing to the benefits of BS-IV auto fuel were referred in the order and the judges opined that the modern technology would reduce particulate matter in the air by 80 per cent as compared to the BS-III.
“However, if one may look at the issue of air pollution, it is time to realise that a collective effort is needed to clear up the air. In this process, the interveners (auto giants) have a huge role and they should now wake up to their responsibility for the benefit of all of us,” the bench said. The court gave its order on an application seeking the ban filed by the EPCA constituted by the top court.
“The health of every person in our country is important and we are more than reluctant to accept any submission that health of the people can be compromised, even in the smallest measure, for the commercial interests of automobile industry or any industry for that matter,” the court said.
It added that while the development versus environment paradigm could be debated upon, there cannot be any debate in the development versus public health paradigm.
Automobile companies came under attack for not planning a phaseout of BS-III vehicles, despite knowing the deadline. Some, such as Maruti Suzuki, were, however, praised for taking the necessary ‘down to business’ approach.