The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Friday extended the stay on its previous order, which banned diesel vehicles older than 10 years and petrol vehicles older than 15 years from plying in Delhi, till May 18. The tribunal also came down heavily on the Union government as well as the governments of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for failing to provide “reasoned and scientifically supported views” on the issue in the given time-frame.
The tribunal made it clear that if the Central and state ministries concerned don’t respond in two weeks, they will “forfeit their right to reply”.
On April 7, picking up several points brought out in the ‘Death by Breath’ series, an investigation by The Indian Express on the quality of air in Delhi, the NGT had issued a fresh ban on all diesel vehicles more than 10 years old and petrol vehicles more than 15 years old from plying in Delhi. But following outrage from transporters, the tribunal, on April 13, stayed its order for two weeks. At the time, it had asked the Union ministries of Surface Transport, Environment and Forest, Urban Development and Petroleum, the Delhi government as well as other authorities for their views on nine issues related to the ban. These ranged from the age of vehicles that should be permitted to ply in Delhi and NCR to capping the number of vehicles on the roads. When the two-week deadline expired on April 27, the Centre asked the tribunal to stay the order for six more months, saying that such a move would affect the public and essential services.
On Friday, additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, told the NGT that while the Union government agrees with the NGT order in principle, she wasn’t in a position to comment on specific queries. The bench, in turn, asked Anand that when the “Supreme Court has upheld the ban, why have you not implemented it?”
After the ASG requested the tribunal for more time to file the Center’s suggestions on methods to reduce vehicular pollution, the NGT bench extended the stay by two weeks.
“ASG submits that she would advise the ministry to hold meeting of concerned ministries and public authorities in order to find out a solution to the problem of air pollution. We have no objections. Meanwhile, stay to continue,” the bench said while posting the matter for hearing on May 18.
The tribunal also noted that none of the authorities had complied with its April 13 order and observed, “All of you know how to make a hue and cry.” Asking for a response within two weeks, it told all concerned ministries and public authorities to “sit together and give suggestions and formulate”.
Nine issues on which tribunal wants answers
1. Age of all vehicles to be permitted to run in NCT Delhi, with reference source of energy/fuel
2. Cap on the number of vehicles to be registered in Delhi, with reference to source of energy/fuel
3. Incentive to be provided to those who adopt carpools etc
4. Benefits/concessions for transfer of vehicles prohibited in Delhi NCR
5. Vehicles prohibited because of high density traffic/greater pollution likely to be shifted to places of lesser density of vehicles and lesser polluted areas
6. Concession/benefits for those who scrap old vehicles
7. Public transport vehicles to be provided on priority
8. Parking area of multistoried parking lots and rationalisation of parking charges
9. Higher registration and other charges, including congestion charge for those with more than one vehicle