The Supreme Court Monday ordered the Delhi government to install radio-frequency identification devices (RFIDs) to facilitate imposition of green cess on commercial vehicles entering the capital.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur expressed displeasure at the reluctance of the government to get the advance technology installed on its own to make sure correct numbers of commercial vehicles are recorded for the purpose of the cess.
“We don’t understand why you are not inclined to implement it. The whole world has the RFID system… Please tell them that they should be progressive and forward-looking and not be an obstructionist,” observed the bench, which also comprised Justice A K Sikri and Justice R Banumathi.
Entrusting the execution of the project to the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, the court added, “Let the system progress and change. We are in the 21st century. Many countries have adopted the technology several years ago. In London, the metro train has been around for the last 100 years.”
When the bench inquired why RFIDs were yet to be installed, the government said the transport department was rethinking the idea. The court pulled up the government for dragging its feet on the issue and asked whether it was advised by the toll contractors to rethink on RFID.
The court also accepted the suggestion mooted by senior lawyer Harish Salve in this regard. Salve has been acting as the amicus curiae in the PIL relating to pollution in Delhi. He had cited a recommendation made by the Environment Pollution Control Authority, which had examined the feasibility of the RFID system for effective and credible levy and collection of the Environment Compensation Charge.
The bench said the cess that has been collected so far from commercial vehicles would be used for RFID installation at 13 entry points. It also directed the government to release within six weeks Rs 93 lakh as fees to RITES for vetting the contract or tender documents for the project.
Last year, the apex court imposed ECC on commercial vehicles entering Delhi in a bid to check the city’s high pollution levels. It had also directed toll collectors to put in place RFID systems at their own cost at nine main entry points, “failing which the contractors will be treated as being in breach of their obligation”. “The RFID data will be supplied to the MCD and transport department. The government will install its own CCTV cameras at nine entry points and organise surprise visits to oversee the collection of ECC…,” the bench had said.
(with PTI inputs)