New Delhi: In a jolt to diesel car owners in the national capital, the National Green Tribunal today directed the Delhi government to cancel the registration of all diesel-powered vehicles which are more than 10 years old from plying in the city.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar ordered the RTO of the Transport Department in Delhi, that after de-registration, it will issue public notice in this regard and supply the list of such vehicles to Delhi Traffic Police which will take appropriate steps in consonance with directions of tribunal.
NGT sources said today's order has to be implmented with immediate effect.
The tribunal said that even during odd-even scheme initiated by the Delhi government, the ambient air quality did not improve and in fact, the parameters remained on the higher side more than the permissible limits.
It further said that as per the report submitted by the expert committee, the ambient air quality in the capital during the implementation of odd-even period was found to be worse than the period when the restriction was not in force.
"This itself is indicative that old diesel vehicles contribute majorly to pollute the air quality and therefore they must be stopped from plying. It is an accepted fact in India and all over the world that emissions from diesel vehicles are more injurious to environment than petrol or other sources of energy like CNG.
"Be that as it may, we are of the considered view that there is no occasion for the tribunal to set aside April 7, 2015 order which prohibited plying of diesel vehicles which are more than 10-year-old on the road in Delhi-NCR...We hereby direct RTO, Delhi to de-register all diesel vehicles which are more than 10 years old," the bench said.
The tribunal passed the order after noting submissions of Delhi Police which said that it has made continuous attempts to stop vehicles which were more than 10 years old from plying on the roads of the national capital.
"But they have hardly met any success," the bench noted.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand and advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for Ministry of Heavy Industries, said that tribunal should not impose such a "harsh" order as it would adversely affect the automobile sector and the economy.
Anand said that an impression has been created about the diesel fuel that it is more polluting which is not a "reality" and other fuels were also causing pollution.
The ASG said that the auto industry contributes over 8
per cent of FDI under Make in India initiative and a major source of employment generation in India.
"Emission norms for particulate matter in respect of diesel vehicles including that of 2000 cc has considerably increased over a period of time and would come to the level of petrol/CNG vehicles by year 2020.
"Private vehicle owners have already paid a 15 year tax on all vehicles. Asking them not to use the vehicles after 10 years is therefore completely unjustified and may lead to other PILs for refund of Road Tax, which has already been paid by the owners," she said, adding that ban should be extended only on 15 year old vehicles.
The Department of Heavy Industries also told the bench that it was giving subsidy to the buyers of electric and hybrid vehicles to encourage their increased use.
Noting the submissions, the bench directed the ministry to file an affidavit giving the status of electric and hybrid vehicles in the country and also mention as to what benefits the ministry was considering for those who wish to dispose of their old vehicles.
It also ordered the ministry to write a letter to Chief Secretaries of all the states within one week in this regard.
The bench, which noted lack of enforcement of judicial orders, said the traffic police has submitted that in order to stop such vehicles, they have time and again issued challans and levied fine on offending vehicles but it has not yielded any result.
"It is also stated that vehicles are released by the magistrates after imposing fine under the Motor Vehicle Act and the vehicles surface again on the roads," the bench noted.
The ASG also said the "Union Budget 2016-17 has levied an infrastructure cess of 1 per cent on small petrol, LPG, CNG cars, while 2.5 per cent on diesel cars of upto certain capacity and 4 per cent on other high engine capacity vehicles and SUVs, which mainly run on diesel."
With regard to pollution from other sources like dust pollution, emissions from burning of plastic and other waste materials, the bench directed Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi government to file a status report on the issue.
The NGT had taken Delhi government to task for its failure to implement its order banning such vehicles from plying on the roads and slammed the government over incidents of waste burning and dust pollution in the national capital.
The tribunal had on April 7, 2015 held that all diesel vehicles which are more than 10 years old will not be permitted to ply in Delhi-NCR.
On November 26, 2014, it had banned plying of all diesel or petrol vehicles which were more than 15 years old.