New Delhi: In a bid to curb the alarming level of pollution in Delhi, the Supreme Court in a landmark ruling on Wednesday banned the registration of all diesel SUVs and luxury cars with engine capacity of 2000 cc or more in the entire National Capital Region till March 31 next year.
The top court also ruled that all trucks not bound for Delhi will not be allowed to enter the capital through National Highways 1 and 8. Those carrying goods for Delhi will have to shell out a steep environment compensation charge (ECC) — Rs 2,600 for big trucks and Rs 1,400 for light commercial vehicles, which is double the ECC earlier specified by the court.
The Supreme Court has also asked all the private cabs operating in the city to convert to Compressed Natural Gas or CNG by March 1 next year. In a relief to the ordinary commuters, the court exempted small diesel cars from the ambit of its order.
The ruling came two weeks before the Delhi government’s radical 15-day odd-even experiment to regulate the number of cars on city roads begins on January 1.
Automobile dealers in Delhi were facing a pile-up of stocks as sales plummeted following the recent NGT order banning registration of diesel cars as part of measures to clean up the abysmal air quality in the capital, which has been between “poor” and “hazardous” levels for several weeks now.
Delhi’s air routinely worsens in the winter as residents start lighting fires to stay warm and as cooler air and clouds trap pollutants. But unlike Beijing, which also suffers from hazardous haze levels, the city does not issue public health warnings.
Over 23 percent of the cars on Delhi roads run on diesel which produces much more carcinogenic nitrogen oxide than petrol cars. More than 1,400 new cars are added every day to the 8.5 million vehicles on Delhi’s roads.