The Supreme Court on Monday decided to hear a petition seeking a ban on diesel cars in Delhi. The fact that the petition has been admitted goes to show that the highest court — acutely aware of the air pollution levels in the Capital — wants to consider the issue seriously.
The Delhi government, through the last few months, has been campaigning to drive diesel vehicles out of the city.
The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Delhi-based advocate Meet Malhotra raised concern over increase in the levels of Respiratory Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) and Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) in the Capital. Quoting a Delhi government report, Malhotra said RSPM levels had increased by 46 per cent between January and October 2006.
The Transport Department told Hindustan Times that there are about 45,000 diesel cars in the city. In 1999, of the total number of new cars sold, only two per cent were diesel. That increased to 30 per cent in 2007 and the projection is 50 per cent by 2010.
Citing the latest Central Pollution Control Board report of January 2007, Malhotra added that transport fuel is a major source of carbon monoxide, benezene and butadiene. As per the report, diesel in India has 10 times more sulphur than it has in Germany. Diesel vehicles in India are 10 times more polluting than those in the European Union and US.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan said the petition will be heard along with the CNG case pending before the court.
Malhotra said although diesel and petrol are sold at the same price in the international market, the former was cheaper in India on account of the subsidy offered by the government.