The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the Delhi government could use the funds collected from the environment compensation charge (ECC) for purchasing remote-sensing machines which would detect pollution emitted from diesel vehicles plying on the roads here. The apex court said this after the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) suggested that remote-sensing technology was “revolutionary” and it was successfully used in China and Hong Kong to tackle the problem of air pollution.
A bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta was informed by advocate Aparajita Singh, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, that EPCA’s report on steps to be taken to strengthen pollution under control (PUC) mechanism has recommended the use of remote-sensing machines, which was already being used in Kolkata as a pilot project. Singh said that as far as petrol vehicles were concerned, the existing PUC measures were optimum but for diesel vehicles the remote sensing technology should be used. She said that a remote-sensing device would cost around Rs 2.5 crore each and 10 such machines were required to be installed in different locations at Delhi.
The amicus also said that this machine not only detects pollution emitted from diesel vehicles, it also scans the number plate and owner of vehicles emitting pollutants could be sent notice regarding this. “Let the government of India look into it and file a reply,” the bench said after which Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), said that he would take instructions and get back to the court within six weeks.
When the amicus said the device should be used in Delhi also, the bench observed, “the amount from ECC can be used (by Delhi government) for this purpose”. Delhi government’s counsel told the bench that he would take instructions in the matter after which the court fixed it for hearing in July. Meanwhile, the bench was informed that six task forces have been set up to look into the issue of traffic bottlenecks in several corridors in Delhi. Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand told the bench that such corridors have been classified under categories A, B and C and at present, steps were being taken with respect to 11 out of 28 corridors falling under category A.
The apex court asked Anand to specify within six weeks the timeline to complete the work and posted the matter for hearing in July. The court had yesterday asked the EPCA to examine the Delhi government’s proposal for using part of the Rs 999.25 crore collected from ECC to buy semi-low floor fully electric buses to tackle pollution and improve public transport.
The issue had cropped up when the court was hearing the matters arising out of a PIL filed in 1985 by environmentalist M C Mehta who had raised the issue of air pollution in the Delhi-National Capital Region.