The Centre has challenged the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order to phase out diesel vehicles more than 15 years old in Delhi, saying there was no legal provision for the move described by a car-maker as a “corporate death penalty”.
The government’s argument in the form of an affidavit was in response to the NGT directives, asking authorities to revoke registration of diesel-powered vehicles more than 10 years old in a move aimed at cleaning up the capital toxic air.
After a July 18 order on deregistering 10-year-old vehicles, the NGT on July 20 told the Delhi government to first focus on vehicles order than 15 years.
On Thursday, automobile manufacturer Toyota too moved the NGT saying the ban on diesel vehicles across the country was like a “corporate death penalty” as it had an impact on the existence of the company.
It termed the ban “unfair and unjust” as it was complying with all the laws and any restriction would severely impact its sales and the livelihood of thousands of people engaged in the automobile sector.
The Union ministry of heavy industries said that the tribunal’s order was in “contravention” of the Motor Vehicle Act.
“Further, the owner of the vehicle should be given an opportunity to make a representation before his vehicle is considered for cancellation of registration. The Motor Vehicle Act also clearly mentions that registering authority should satisfy that the vehicle will constitute a danger to public and it is beyond reasonable repair,” it said.
The government said it was expecting sale of 6-7 million hybrid and electric vehicles by 2020, on an “upfront reduced price” as incentive. This will result into estimated saving of 9,500 million litres of fossil fuels worth more than Rs 60,000 crore and reduction of 2 million tons of green house gas emission, the affidavit said.
The ministry said “forcible scrapping” of vehicles might give rise to various litigations and such an order would “amount to penalising the motor vehicles owners who have complied with the law of the land”.
The government argued that motor vehicles have to carry a valid pollution under control (PUC) certificate and therefore, “there is already a mechanism in place to allow only those motor vehicles to ply on road that comply with the requirement of having a valid PUC certificate”.
Diesel vehicles more than 15 years old are already banned in the national capital region while the Supreme Court has also barred registration of new diesel vehicles with engine capacity of 2000 CC and above and ordered all diesel taxis to convert to compressed natural gas (CNG).
The NGT order is the latest in a raft of measures being implemented in Delhi to improve the city’s air that is among the worst in the world.
The Delhi government had also implemented an ambitious road rationing scheme earlier this year, allowing vehicles to ply on alternate days based on their registration numbers ending with odd or even digits barring Sundays.