The National Green Tribunal Monday suspended for two weeks its order banning diesel vehicles older than 10 years from Delhi’s streets, a respite for the city staring at a shortage of essential supplies.
The order saw truckers call off their plan to strike work from Monday midnight and coincided with the Centre’s decision to challenge the ban in the Supreme Court.
Delhi gets most of its supplies from outside the city and even within, diesel-fuelled trucks are its lifeline, be it milk, water or even garbage collection.
“There shall be no impounding of vehicles for two weeks,” a bench headed by NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The tribunal also asked the Centre and the Delhi government to come up with suggestions for incentives to those transferring or scrapping old polluting diesel vehicles.
NGT also suggested fixing a cap on the number of vehicles on the Capital’s roads.
The Delhi government was also asked to submit by May 1 — the next date of hearing – ways for better implementation of the order. In a bid to clean Delhi’s toxic air, NGT has issued a string of orders to check vehicular emission — one of the single biggest sources of air pollution.
During the day, the Kejriwal government asked the Centre to call a meeting of transport ministers of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to draw up a joint plan for implementing the NGT order which involves the national capital region.
Delhi transport minister Gopal Rai said he would write to his counterpart at the Centre Nitin Gadkari for changes in the motor vehicles act to implement the ban.
“There is no provision that gives the transport department the power to impound vehicles depending on their age. Owners can go to court if we start impounding old vehicles,” Rai said.
The road ministry would seek more time from the apex court. “We will seek more time to prepare a policy framework to curb pollution and check polluting vehicles,” Gadkari said. The Centre has been saying that the not only violated the motor act but also the rights of consumers.
Noting that diesel was the prime source of air pollution in Delhi, the tribunal had on April 7 ordered all diesel vehicles older than 10 years off Delhi and the National Capital Region roads.
It modified the order after the Delhi government sought more time to implement it, saying essential services had been badly hit.