Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Thursday directed the Centre to allocate natural gas, including CNG, to Ahmedabad city at the same price as it supplies to Delhi and Mumbai under the Administered Price Mechanism (APM).
"Government of India is directed to allot natural gas for domestic and vehicular usage to the city of Ahmedabad at the same price at which is it supplied to Delhi and Mumbai to enforce the righ of equality," the Division Bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala said.
The Bench directed the Centre to immediately implement the order and declined to grant a stay on the ruling for the Central Government to approach the Supreme Court.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is available in the city at Rs 53 per kg, while it is priced at Rs 38.35 a kg in Delhi.
The HC gave the direction while hearing a petition of environmental NGO Dhanghdhra Prakruti Mandal. The petition said though as per the Bhurelal Committee report, pollution levels in Ahmedabad were as high as those in Delhi and Mumbai, the Centre was not providing environment-friendly natural gas to the city under the APM.
The NGO said the price difference was due to the "discrimination of the Centre" towards Ahmedabad, where the courts have made it mandatory for auto-rickshaws to use CNG.
Additional Solicitor General P S Chapaneri, representing the Centre, requested for a stay on the order to challenge it in the Supreme Court.
However, the Bench held that as the Government is not allocating natural gas under APM, this order has to be implemented immediately.
In another significant direction to Gujarat Government, Bench said, "State is directed to pass necessary orders within shortest possible period, at any rate not exceeding one year from today, compelling the owners of all vehicles having registration in Gujarat to use natural gas, and if necessary, even at higher prices, for the protection of the lives of the citizens living in the state."
At the end of the judgment, the Bench said that, "so long such a restriction to make it compulsory for all vehicles plying in the state by natural gas is not enforced, necessary orders imposing stringent restrictions be passed, within one month, in relation to the pollution by fixing the level of emissions to the minimum levels in accordance with international standards."
The petitioner had complained the Centre was "discriminating" against Gujarat-based City Gas Distributions (CGDs) by allocating less natural gas to them.
The NGO sought directions to the Union Government to prioritise and diversify the un-utilised natural gas from non- priority sector to CGDs for domestic and vehicular usage.
The Bench asked the Centre "not to discriminate between CGDs promoted by central PSUs and other CGDs, and also among Gujarat-based CGDs in the matter of allocation of natural gas."