SC’s pollution levy on vehicles into Delhi: a precedent that could become a norm?

Arguments for imposing a pollution tax or even a congestion tax are being made to ensure that private vehicles avoid these places.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | New Delhi | Published: October 14, 2015 6:30 pm
delhi pollution tax, pollution tax delhi, supreme court pollution tax Arguments for imposing a pollution tax or even a congestion tax are being made to ensure that private vehicles avoid these places.

So the courts have finally decided to penalise the trucks which are a major source of the rise in pollutants of Delhi’s air. Light vehicles and small trucks coming into Delhi will be charged Rs 700 per entry while larger ones — with three or four axles — will be liable to pay Rs 1,300 as a pollution tax.

The hope is that a large number of these trucks that do not need to enter Delhi – they transit through the capital — will be deterred by the tax and will take alternative routes to reach their destinations. A lower number of smoke-bellowing trucks – the traffic department says more than 65,000 of them enter Delhi each day — would mean lesser emissions and hence, better air quality.

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Though the Supreme Court has asked this tax to be levied for only four months as a pilot project, the order has to be seen in the larger context of re-affirming the polluters’ pay principle that is the cornerstone of all environmental regulation across the globe. Industries have been hauled up for pollution and have often been asked to pay for the clean-up action.

This is the first time in India that the transport sector has been made accountable for the pollution it causes.

The levy of Rs 700 or Rs 1,300 may or may not stay beyond the four months. In any case, it is not a prohibitive amount for bigger trucks. Whether it improves the air quality in Delhi can be assessed only at a later stage. The real significance of the Supreme Court order is in the precedent it sets for those demanding a curb on the increase in vehicular traffic in many other parts of the country, especially in environmentally fragile areas like the mountains of Uttarakhand.

Civic authorities in Shimla and many other tourist cities are already considering ways to control the flow of vehicles into their areas, not only for reasons of pollution but also because of the congestion they cause. The number of vehicles plying on the roads leading to Kedarnath and Badrinath shrines are also becoming a huge problem for the local residents.

Arguments for imposing a pollution tax or even a congestion tax are being made to ensure that private vehicles avoid these places. The Supreme Court action has just strengthened those arguments.

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  1. Murthy Suppusamy
    Oct 14, 2015 at 11:04 pm
    India is good at solutions and prescriptions. It tries diarrhea medicine for headache!. And attempts cancel medicine for kid's fever. Wrong prescription for wrong problem. Don't they know there is already a Nation on the surface of Earth called USA, which had fixed all these prblems? And use USA's solutions to India?
    1. S
      Oct 14, 2015 at 10:54 pm
      Why taxing people for pollution? make alternatives for pollution free transportation. If all transporters boycott Delhi then will it not choke the supply line of capital?
      1. H
        Oct 14, 2015 at 10:02 pm
        What about residents of Delhi who have such trucks; do they emit oxygen or the five cars in a single house for the elite; why should they not be taxed extra. Why should visitors coming to attend to their relatives or friends or on business have to cough up Rs 700 for trip. Why not have stringent norms for ALL vehicles so that the emission quality is improved or lay down traffic light less routes so that the transient vehicles can move faster. Pollution levels increase many fold at traffic light halts due wasteful emissions. Imposing duty on transient vehicles is a part solution only.
        1. Y
          Yashvant Patel
          Oct 15, 2015 at 2:22 am
          Between the 'SC' & Delhi 'LG' directions have been given, it is upto 'AAP' to 'implementate. Let's hope they're 'upto it'. Delhi needs the 'BIG' break.