SC notice to centre, four states on increasing air pollution in NCR
New Delhi: Taking note of ever-growing vehicular traffic contributing to toxic air pollution in Delhi, the Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the central and four state governments on the plea seeking direction for steps to effectively reduce air pollution in the NCR.
The green bench of Justice A.K.Patnaik, Justice S.S.Nijjar and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla issued notice as amicus curiae Harish Salve read from the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) report which said that there was a significant increase in the toxic air pollution and loss of air quality in Delhi and the NCR.
Issuing notice to the central and Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan governments on the 2007 EPCA Report which had said that the gains from the first generation reforms that saw the introduction of CNG in public and private transport has been lost, the court directed the fresh numbering of the matter and issuance of fresh notice.
Seeking second generation reforms on the use of fuel and to protect the public health in Delhi and NCR, the EPCA report has sought direction to the central government and the petroleum and natural gas ministry to come up with a long term taxation policy to maintain at least 30-35 percent price differential between diesel and CNG.
They were also asked to accord priority to transport sector for gas allocation in cities to address public health concerns in polluted cities.
It has also sought direction to the petroleum and road transport and highways ministry to introduce Bharat Stage IV emissions standards wide by 2015, while cars should meet Euro V norms by 2016. Also a stringent timeline be mandated for introduction of Euro VI by 2021.
"This rapid improvement in fuel quality-vehicle technology," the report said, is "needed across the country to reduce direct exposure to toxic vehicular fumes. This nation-wide action will benefit Delhi and NCR that has emerged as a pollution hotspot."
The EPCA in its recommendations have sought direction to the central government to impose additional 30 percent environment compensation charge on private diesel cars.
The report said that the revenue so collected be invested to produce clean diesel (10 ppm sulphur) to enable introduction of Euro V and Euro VI nation-wide and also scale up public transport.
The report has also sought direction to several authorities including the Delhi government, civic agencies and traffic police to submit a time bound plan on implementation of appropriate network of dedicated pedestrian and cycling lanes with high degree of safety for users.
It sought directions to Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and the department of environment to implement daily air quality index and health advisory for public information immediately. It has also sought directions to the four state governments to submit a time bound comprehensive action plan with short, medium and long term action to meet the clean air standards.