The centre moved the Supreme Court on Friday against a decision by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to ban diesel vehicles that are at least 10 years old from plying in the national capital region (NCR) centred on Delhi.
The NGT’s ruling in April 2015 was aimed at curbing pollution in the national capital, blamed largely on toxic emissions by diesel-fueled vehicles, and its impact on human health.
In July 2016, the NGT directed the Delhi government’s transport department to deregister diesel vehicles that are at 10 years old or older. The court later held that the process of deregistration would begin with scrapping of 15-year-old diesel vehicles.
The tribunal passed the orders despite repeated pleas from the Union ministry of heavy industry and public enterprises against such a move.
The government suggested to the NGT that instead of banning old diesel vehicles, it must consider ways to tackle bigger causes of pollution such as crop burning and road dust.
As of 2014, Delhi had 8.9 million registered passenger vehicles. Of these, 220,000 were diesel passenger vehicles and 170,000 commercial vehicles that are older than 10 years, according to industry estimates.
The NGT passed a series of orders in 2014 and 2015 to control air pollution from vehicular emissions, waste burning, crop burning and construction dust, but their implementation has been ineffective.
Besides banning diesel vehicles that are at least 10 years old, the green tribunal has also outlawed petrol vehicles that are 15 years old or older.
Experts said the government needs a clear strategy to tackle pollution caused by diesel-fueled personal vehicles.
“There has to be some consistency in approach of the government. When so much has been done in Delhi to control diesel emission from trucks, buses and taxis, it should not be allowed for cars,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director at the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment. “The government needs to give us a strategy to control dieselization of the personal vehicle segment where we have not yet introduced clean diesel.”