A special bench comprising of Chief Justice T S Thakur, Justice A K Sikri and Justice R Banumathi passed a slew of orders during the first ever Saturday hearing in the apex court. The Chief Justice has proposed hearing of lengthy matters on Saturdays so that other cases are not affected and pendency comes down The Supreme Court today wondered if there was any benefit from Delhi government’s Odd-Even scheme, diversion of polluting non-destined trucks and ban on sale of diesel SUVs.
The question was posed to lawyer Abhishek Manu Sighvi who appeared for a car manufacturer who sought lifting of ban on sale of diesel SUVs of more than 2000 CC. Singhvi replied that “there are several other factors which contribute to pollution which include road dust which is 38 per cent and industries which contribute 11 per cent. Unless we look and address the issue of real pollutant, nothing will seem to improve”.
“Why no difference is made out in pollution level in Delhi, even after steps have been taken like odd-even scheme, diversion of trucks from the national capital. What are the solutions, a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur asked during a special Saturday hearing of a PIL filed in 1985 by environmentalist M C Mehta to check pollution levels. The court has expanded its ambit to include several other issues.
Petrol and diesel taxis including those run by OLA and UBER in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) cannot ply as the Supreme Court on Saturday refused to extend the April 30 deadline fixed for their conversion into less-polluting CNG mode.“We can't keep on extending the time. We are not extending it now and not going to make any exceptions. There is technology available, you convert, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said while rejecting the plea that it would affect livelihood of poor drivers as there is no technology available for conversion of diesel vehicles into CNG ones.
TODAY’S ORDERSSC allowed Delhi Police to buy 190 diesel vehicles for VVIP security, transporting prisoners, towing other vehicles etc. subject to payment of 30% green cess. It also refused to extend the deadline for all petrol and diesel taxis
The bench said ban on registration of diesel run SUVs of more than 2000 CC will continue till the court took a decision on imposing green cess on all diesel vehicles
The court referred to its environment panel plea of all India permit diesel taxis to be exempted from ban . SC allows registration of 2000 CC plus vehicles to be purchased for public utility purpose
AIR CONVERTORSSenior lawyer K K Venugopal who appeared for three infants who had filed a petition filed through her parents suggested making it mandatory for all –old and new--petrol cars and diesel cars-- to retrofit their engine with catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters, devices that changes toxic gases to less toxic pollutants which “worked wonders in California and brought down pollution level by nearly 85 percent”.
“When CNG was introduced in Delhi, people said that it is not possible and others said it is too expensive but ultimately people started using it. Earlier, it took more than three months to convert a vehicle into CNG but now it takes around two-three days and costs just Rs 40,000 to Rs 80,000”, Venugopal said adding that similarly if diesel vehicle retrofit themselves then it would help in reducing the emission of particulate matter substantially”.
The CJI reacted to this submission saying: “We were only thinking in terms of imposing a cess. But why can’t we address pollution itself? Why cannot cars be modified? Let experts check, centre examine..If we find it feasible then why not? We are not shutting it out we must consult others on it”.
Hearing will continue on May 9