Irked with the Centre and the Delhi government for seeking more time to address the issue of phasing out diesel vehicles, the National Green Tribunal Friday directed that no diesel vehicles be registered in the capital till January 6.
“In view of the serious contribution of vehicular pollution to the air quality of NCT, Delhi, it is important that the government should take a serious view and a decision (on) whether any vehicle — particularly diesel vehicle (old or new) — should be registered… As an interim measure till next date of posting subject to hearing of all concerned parties, we direct that diesel vehicles of more than 10 years of age as already directed, as well as new diesel vehicles, would not be registered in NCT, Delhi,” directed the bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar.
The NGT also directed the government to “take a conscientious decision with regard to not buying any diesel vehicle, whether by the Central or the state government”. It also directed all public authorities, including municipal corporations, DDA, police and other public departments, “to prepare an action plan for phasing out diesel vehicles, particularly trucks being used by all these bodies”.
The directions were issued during a hearing on a plea regarding air pollution in the capital, filed by advocate Vardhaman Kaushik. The bench issued orders after Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand informed the bench that the Delhi government was yet to take a stand on the modalities and rules for providing certain “special benefits for condemnation/scrapping of vehicles” older than 10 years. The bench also directed the Delhi government counsel to get instructions on the issue by the next date of hearing on January 6.
In its report filed before the NGT, the Delhi government informed the bench that at regional transport offices in Delhi, around 1,300-1,400 new vehicles — both heavy and light, including two wheelers — are registered every day.
“Obviously, a reasonably good number of vehicles are also being registered at Gurgaon, Bahadurgarh, Ghaziabad and Noida. These are over and above the vehicles registered in Delhi,” noted the bench, adding that since vehicular pollution was a major contributor to pollution in the capital, the government was required to take a stand possibly capping the number of vehicles sold and registered.
The NGT bench also struck a note of caution about the odd-even car number policy that the Delhi government plans to implement. It said that media reports suggested that the policy had “failed” in Beijing because people had been forced to buy more cars. The bench also noted that the policy had been proposed only for cars, even as the government was planning to get more buses. “How will you reduce pollution if vehicles increase?” asked the bench, which also commented on the fact that congestion in the city had “not reduced” even with the introduction of the Delhi Metro.
“We think that the authorities concerned must sit together and clearly answer the queries raised by the Tribunal… We direct that by way of last opportunity, we grant time to all the learned counsel appearing in the case to seek instructions and report to the Tribunal,” the bench directed.
The NGT also issued directions to all authorities to strictly implement earlier orders regarding the ban on burning of waste and fine on emission of construction dust. The bench called for an action taken report as well as a “list of offenders” from all authorities on the next date of hearing.
Further, the bench asked the Delhi government to create an action plan to reduce pollution around schools, suggesting measures such as creating green belts and installing air purifiers to protect children.
A Delhi government spokesperson said they will decide on the future course of action after going through the NGT order.