The Supreme Court has provided Delhi just the boost it needed to tackle its crippling pollution problem. Acting on a directive by the National Green Tribunal, the apex court released a slew of measures to help clean up the Delhi air, one of the dirtiest in the world.
The court not only banned the registration of diesel-run sport utility vehicles (SUV) and cars with 2000 cc engines in Delhi and NCR, it also set a March, 2016 deadline for all taxis to convert to CNG.
A bench comprising chief justice T.S. Thakur, justices A.K. Sikri and R. Banumathi directed all taxis, including Ola and Uber to shift to CNG with immediate effect.
(An Indian schoolchild adjusts his facemask before the start of an event to spread awareness of the problem of air pollution in New Delhi on June 4, 2015, on the eve of World Environment Day. MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images)
It raised by 100 per cent the green cess being levied on commercial vehicles entering Delhi and those that are not Delhi bound will not enter the national capital through NH-8 and NH-1 as it has been found that these vehicles are one of the major sources of emissions.
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It also banned the entry of commercial vehicles registered before 2005.
The court noted that traffic policemen are the worst affected by rising pollution in the city and asked the Centre to give "proper marks" to them.
A BBC report that quoted the World Health Organization said air pollution causes more than 600,000 premature deaths in India each year and the country has 13 of the world's 20 most polluted cities.
The court has earlier said that "rich people can't go round in SUVs polluting the environment" while ticking off car dealers who challenged the National Green Tribunal's earlier order to ban the registration of diesel vehicles.
The Delhi government had launched an odd-even plan for the city to combat pollution.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the proposal that would allow private vehicles with odd and even registration numbers to run on alternate days starting next month. What this means is that from January 1, 2016, if vehicles with number plates ending with an odd number can be driven one day, only those ending with an even number can be brought out the next day.
However, this will not apply to public vehicles.
The move came after the Delhi High Court called the city a "gas chamber".
Last week, India's green panel directed central and state government departments not to purchase any diesel vehicles and 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.
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