"Are your vehicles emitting oxygen?" the Supreme Court today asked the lawyers for Toyota, Mercedes and Mahindra & Mahindra who want a ban on their larger diesel cars in Delhi revoked.
The court for the time being refused to withdraw the ban and assured them a detailed hearing on a later date
The Supreme Court had on December 15 banned registration of diesel vehicles having engine power of more than 2000 CC like the SUVs and luxury sedans till April 1 on a trial basis. The rich cannot be allowed to move around in expensive diesel vehicles when they can afford petrol vehicles, Chief Justice T S Thakur had noted.
“We will first have to assess the question if diesel cars should be allowed at all. Our directions presume diesel vehicles are polluting. For the time being our action is only on big diesel SUVs. We later plan to extend to anyone buying a diesel car. If it is correct that diesel pollutes more, a person who buys diesel vehicle should pay a polluting tax. The polluter pays principle should apply on him”, the bench added refusing to modify the order today.
On behalf of Toyota senior advocate Kapil Sibal and advocate Vijay Sondhi told the court that their client was the manufacturer of Innova, used mostly by the common person for earning his or her livelihood and that the prohibition had a tremendous impact on the middle class for whom the car was the sole mode of their income.
Senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Mahindra, said his client too manufactured automobiles mostly used in the rural areas and for the common man.
According to the companies the new cars comply with the latest emission standards, which is BS-IV. However, the maximum cars plying on city roads do not conform to the prevailing emission norms and that they were one of the major contributors to the alarming levels of pollutants in the Capital. BS-IV compliant vehicles only constitute 24 per cent of the total number of diesel vehicles registered in the NCR.
The companies claim the ban prevents transition of such vehicles to opt for cleaner fuel technology.
The SC order, they state, does not consider the actual cause of the existing levels of pollution nor does it identify the actual polluters.
“Prohibiting the registration of new BS-IV compliant vehicles shall not result in the desired reduction of air pollution in NCR, especially when more polluting diesel vehicles continue to ply on roads,” read Toyota’s petition.
Among other orders the court directed that owners of more than banned 10 and 15 year old diesel and petrol cars should be allowed to sell them outside NCR. IT also suggested ban on use of more than 10 year old diesel cars by government, PSUs and corporations
The court also wanted installation of weigh bridges at all Delhi entry points to drive away over-loaded trucks. Delhi Metro was asked to increase frequency of trains to boose Odd Even experiment. Centre has been asked to open 100 new CNG stations in NCR, Delhi govt asked to provide adequate number of buses.