New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday imposed an 'Environment Compensation Charge' (ECC) on commercial vehicles entering Delhi, in addition to the toll tax, from November 1 for four months on a trial basis, in a bid to check high pollution levels in the city.
The charges would be payable at the rates of Rs 700 for light duty vehicles and two-axle vehicles and Rs 1,300 for three-axle and above.
The apex court directed the Delhi Government to issue appropriate notification in this regard as it made clear that these charges would be operative for four months from November 1 till February 29, 2016 on an "experimental basis".
Nullifying the October 7 order of the National Green Tribunal on the same issue, the apex court made it clear that "this order will override any order to the contrary by any authority."
To review the mechanism, the bench posted the matter for further consideration in the third week of February.
"Amicus curiae Harish Salve, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar and Dushyant Dave, senior counsel appearing for the Government of NCT Delhi have jointly suggested that the environment compensation charge ought to be imposed by the Delhi government...
"On due consideration, we do not see any reason not to accept the above suggestion. Accordingly, we approve the suggested arrangements," a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said.
The bench, which also included justices Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goel, however, said that passenger buses, vehicles carrying essential commodities, food articles and ambulances would be exempted from paying the 'environment compensation charge'.
"The charge will be collected by the toll operators without any deduction and handed over to the Delhi Government on every Friday. The Delhi Government shall furnish accounts of the receipts and the expenditure incurred to Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control)) Authority and to this Court each quarter," the bench said.
Taking note of Centre for Science and Environment study that about 23 per cent of the commercial vehicles and 40-60 per cent of the heavy trucks entering the city were not destined for Delhi, the court said it was necessary to impose the charges, along with the MCD toll, to equalize the difference in cost in travelling through alternative routes.