"The situation is alarming indeed. Even my grandson has started wearing pollution masks", Chief Justice H L Dattu said as he favoured imposition of hefty pollution tax ranging from rs 600 -1,200 on nearly 60,000 trucks from outside passing through Delhi spewing harmful pollutants.
A bench headed by Justice Dattu on Monday sought positive views of Centre, Delhi government and MCD on the proposal by Thursday on a plea by Harish Salve, amicus curiae in pollution case related to a 1985 PIL filed by environmentalist M C Mehta.
Senior Advocate Harish Salve who is the amicus curiae (the senior assisting on an issue) responded by saying "My wife has asthma. My daughter has asthma and I had to take steroid first time two days back".
"Take a positive instruction. We want your responses by Thursday", the CJI Dattu-led bench told counsels representing the Centre, Delhi government and MCD.
Most of these trucks coming from outside and bound for some other states enter Delhi as a transit route (non-destined) to save heavy toll which is charged on alternative routes.
"The pollution compensation tax should be fixed as a way to equalize the difference between toll roads and travel through Delhi. Every night 40,000 to 60,000 trucks enter Delhi to save on toll. The principle of environment law that polluter has to pay is now part of constitutional jurisprudence. It has become a constitutional imperative to recover these illegal savings (by the truckers), which are contrary to the mandate of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution and to use these for dealing with the consequence of pollution", says Sunita Narain, Director General of Centre for Science and Environment who is a member of the SC-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority which submitted a report on the issue on Monday.
The EPCA report says the trucks account for nearly 30 % of the harmful particulate matter in Delhi's air
Salve, during the hearing, referred to the EPCA report and said a large number of commercial vehicles opt Delhi and NCR roads, instead of the highways, as it is cheaper to traverse through the capital city.
The apex court has now asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Centre and the counsel for the Delhi government and civic agencies to come prepared on Thursday when it will take up the fresh plea filed by Salve. Earlier, it had agreed to hear the plea seeking directions for the Centre, Delhi Government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to ensure that commercial vehicles entering the city of Delhi are required to pay a sum of not less than Rs 600 (for LCV and 2-axle) and not less than Rs 1200 (for 3-axle and above). This pollution compensatory charge will be imposed in addition to the toll charge imposed by MCD, the plea had said.
Image from here.
Read the report of Environment Pollution(Prevention and Control) Authority for NCR (EPCA) here.