Supreme Court turns to social media to keep banned vehicles off Delhi roads
The Supreme Court on Monday prohibited the plying of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles in the national capital region (NCR) and directed the transport department to announce that such vehicles would be impounded if found plying.
Terming the pollution situation in the Capital “very critical, pitiable and terrible”, the Supreme Court ordered the Delhi government’s transport department on Monday to immediately identify 10-year-old diesel and 15-year-old petrol vehicles, and impound them if they are found plying on city roads.
A bench led by justice MB Lokur ordered the department to prepare a list of such vehicles and publish it on the websites of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the transport department.
An advertisement to this effect should also be published in newspapers, the court said, as it also banned the entry of commercial diesel vehicles more than 10 years old in Delhi.
CPCB was also ordered to create a social media account on which citizens can lodge complaints on pollution and report violations.
Appropriate action would be taken by authorities concerned on such complaints, the court said.
The Supreme Court issued its directions after advocate Aparajita Singh’s application pointed to a complete absence of effective complaint mechanism where citizens can lodge a complaint and expect prompt action.
The top court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has taken pre-emptive steps under the Graded Response Action Plan (Grap), which is aimed at tackling air pollution in Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas.
Acting on CPCB recommendations, EPCA has banned construction activities in the National Capital Region between November 1 and November 10, among other steps. It also asked authorities to crack down on visibly polluting vehicles.
Hearing a separate case, the top court came down heavily on a non-profit organisation that questioned a 2017 circular by the Delhi government that asked schools to spread awareness among students on the harmful effects of cracker bursting. A bench led by justice AK Sikri slapped a fine of ?1 lakh on the petitioner. The petitioner submitted that the circular, based on a 2005 judgment by the top court that for the first time fixed hours for bursting crackers, hurt the religious sentiments of those who celebrated Diwali.
“How can you challenge such a circular? Schools started with the awareness campaign much before this circular came. This has been going on for last many years. What is wrong with such a circular?” the court asked, terming it a complete misuse of the PIL platform.