Air pollution: Despite ban, 60,000 trucks enter Capital
At least 60,000 trucks were allowed to enter Delhi early on Monday, despite a ban imposed by the SC-mandated EPCA on their movement inside the Capital in view of severe air pollution.delhi Updated: Nov 14, 2017 18:09 IST
In a major goof up, at least 60,000 trucks were allowed to enter Delhi early on Monday, despite a ban imposed by the SC-mandated EPCA on their movement inside the Capital in view of severe air pollution.
For the seventh consecutive day on Monday, the air quality in Delhi remained in the severe zone (an AQI of 400 or more), choking residents. The Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), which is in place in Delhi, mandates that heavily polluting vehicles such as trucks are not allowed entry into the city.
Municipal and traffic police officials entrusted with the responsibility to stop trucks at Delhi borders apparently took advantage of the fact that the transport department’s ban notification expired at 11pm on Sunday. While issuing directives last week, the EPCA had stated that the entry of trucks will remain prohibited into the national Capital ‘until further notice’.
Reacting to the defiance of the ban, EPCA member Sunita Narain said, “The transport department had put up the file for extending the date of the order but the minister is sitting on the file. If, urgency is not shown by the government then enforcing GRAP would be futile.”
The matter was raised on Monday in a meeting held by the Delhi chief secretary. The lift on the ban, coupled with the lax attitude of the traffic police and the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, resulted in even thousands of non-destined vehicles entering the city, triggering congestion and raising dust pollution, officials said.
“Over 60,000 trucks were waiting to enter at the borders and to avoid the chaos in the city, joint commissioner of traffic police Garima Bhatnagar wrote to SDMC for lifting the toll tax. The civic agency allowed free entry to trucks and didn’t even charge the environment compensation charges (ECC) from heavy goods vehicles,” said KK Dahiya, special commissioner (transport).
The ECC is mandated by the Supreme Court and waiving it off would attract contempt of court.
Dahiya said the chief secretary demanded an explanation from the municipal corporation on the issue. “Waiving of ECC has resulted in a loss of R3 crore to the Delhi government,” he said.
However, senior SDMC official said they only waived off toll tax to clear congestion and not ECC. “The ban on entry of trucks was in effect till Sunday night only and, considering over 75,000 taxis, small trucks and heavy goods vehicles were waiting at the borders, the joint commissioner wrote to us for waiving toll tax,” said Yashpal Dahiya.
Bhatnagar, however, said the MCD did not waive off toll tax despite request. “Our staff was also present there, and they were told by the SDMC workers that no orders have been received from the senior MCD officials so they can’t implement the decision,” said Bhatnagar.