The Supreme Court came down hard on the Delhi government for its failure to control the use of old vehicles which were banned by the National Green Tribunal almost three years ago. In April 2015, the NGT had decreed that all petrol and diesel vehicles over 15 and ten years respectively must not be allowed to run on the city roads. But a transport department posting on its website showed that nearly 39 lakhs old vehicles—nearly 40 percent of the capital vehicular population of one crore—continue to ply in the NCR.
The SC censure came as pollution levels in the national capital rose up to unprecedented levels. With Diwali just a few days away, there are fears of a catastrophe awaiting. “We have already de-registered all diesel vehicles which are more than 10 and 15 years old,” the Delhi government told the court, adding that a notice has been issued in newspapers about this. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) told the court that it has created social media account on Twitter and Facebook, where people in the Delhi and National Capital Region can lodge complaints about pollution. After being told that it has received only 18 complaints so far, the court told the CPCB to publicize the opening on social media sites.
Meanwhile the Environment Ministry has constituted 52 special action teams that will go to various places of Delhi-NCR and report the incidents of pollution to the concerned enforcing agency. The teams will ensure compliance and safety and take quick action against the cases of violations. Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Environment Minister Dr Harshvardhan informed that the teams will proactively and aggressively report the incidents of pollution for the next ten days.
The special teams comprise the local SDM as the team leader, senior official from the Ministry and representatives from CPCB, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).
44 teams will be deployed for Delhi while NCR region will have eight teams. Talking about the sale of firecrackers this Diwali, the Minister said, licenses will be given to those retailers who adhere to the guidelines of the Supreme Court.
—India Legal Bureau