Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Supreme Court Refuses To Extend Deadline For CNG Compliance; Diesel Cabs Banned In Delhi From May 1st

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Delhi will not have diesel taxis vrooming on its roads from Sunday. The Supreme Court, which sat for the first time in its history on a Saturday to hear the alarming pollution levels in the Capital, said that it would not extend the deadline of April 30 fixed for converting all diesel-run taxis into CNG.

The court also rapped the Centre for “sleeping in slumber and waking up only after it had passed orders” while hearing a matter related to rising pollution levels in Delhi.

Taxi owners had sought more time from the court, saying that there was no technology to convert diesel vehicles to CNG.

The Apex bench of Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and Justices AK Sikri and R Banumathi, however, allowed Delhi Jap Board to register its 250 diesel tankers that have been bought to replace vehicles that are more than 10 years old. It also gave green signal to Delhi Police to register their new diesel-run vehicles of 2000 cc engine capacity and above for transportation of under trial prisoners, arms and ammunition.

The court also granted permission to New Delhi Municipal Corporation(NDMC) to approach National Green Tribunal for modification of its earlier order banning registration of vehicles used for transportation of garbage. The civic body submitted that these vehicles come under essential services, and they do not have a CNG variation.

With the court taking a strict view of the matter, petrol pump owners also approached the bench for permission to register their tankers. The court, however, advised them to withdraw their application, and approach the NGT.

Meanwhile, during the arguments, the amicus curae and the court debated whether BS IV vehicles emitted less polluting components compared to cars that were more than 15 years old. Senior counsel AM Singhvi argued that ban on BS IV vehicles will encourage use of BS I counterparts, that are already plying on city roads. He further submitted to the court that share of BS IV as emissions is only 0.50 per cent, which meant that 26 such cars were equivalent to one vintage vehicle(before 1996).  He also read out a report by IIT Kanpur that claimed that diesel vehicles contribute only 0.13 per cent to pollution graph.

Senior lawyer and amicus curae KK Venugopal informed the court that catalytic convertors can be installed in diesel cars that will make BS I at par with BS IV. He also requested the court to send a proposal in this regard to statutory authorities under rule 160(d) of the Pollution Act.



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