India's green panel on Friday directed central and state government departments not to purchase any diesel vehicles in an effort to clean up Delhi's air, one of the dirtiest in the world. The National Green Tribunal also said no new diesel vehicles should be registered in Delhi, although the ban does not apply to private vehicles.
The NGT had earlier questioned the Delhi Government's odd-even formula for vehicles and said that such a move may make people buy two cars. It expressed doubt on whether such a plan will help Delhi achieve the desired purpose.
Starting Jan 1, 2016, private vehicles with odd registration numbers will ply on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and those with even numbers on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The decision came after widespread warnings that Delhi's air pollution had breached tolerable limits, and Delhi High Court ruled that the city had become like a "gas chamber". Delhi has nearly 90 lakh registered vehicles, almost a third of them cars and some 1,500 new vehicles are added every day, reported IANS.
Breaking the directive up for reporters, Balendu Shekhar, NGT lawyer, said only government agencies are liable. "It does not apply to the common man who can still go out an buy a diesel vehicle," he said.
The Supreme Court yesterday admitted a plea to ban diesel vehicles.
"You are earning a bad name. Delhi is the most polluted city in the world. Last week, a judge had come from the International Court of Justice and it was embarrassing for us to tell him that this is the level of pollution in Delhi," IANS quoted Supreme Court Chief Justice T.S. Thakur as saying.
The court asked the government to provide a platform where all stakeholders including municipal bodies, the Delhi government, Central Pollution Control Board and others could come together for formulating short-term, medium-term and long-term policies to address the issue.
"The people will have to be told that it is not a good option to buy a diesel car," senior lawyer Harish Salve told the court. Every day more than 60,000 trucks enter Delhi and about 30,000 of them are meant for Delhi.
To help citizens cope with the odd-even plan during the 15-day trial period, the Delhi government will have more buses on the road, allow auto drivers to work for longer periods and asked Delhi Metro to increase the frequency of trains.
The NGT ruling could not have come at a better time. An Indian Express report stated that particulate matter levels have also soared to ten times the prescribed limits. Sundays are exempt from the odd-even rule. (With inputs from ANI)
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