New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Delhi government to install radio-frequency identification devices (RFID) at 13 entry points to the state to levy entry cess and toll tax on commercial vehicles entering the national capital.

A bench comprising of chief justice T.S. Thakur, justices A.K. Sikri and R. Banumathi entrusted execution of the project to South Delhi Municipal Corporation. The initial funding for the project would come from the corpus of Environmental Compensation Charge (ECC) collected from commercial vehicles entering Delhi.

Senior advocate Harish Salve who assisted the court as amicus curiae (Latin for friend of the court) said the ECC corpus currently has about 350 crore. “ 125 crore would be spread over five years for implementing the project and 432 crore would be collected per annum," Salve added.

The court’s order came in the 1985 public interest litigation filed by environmentalist M.C. Mehta seeking to control air pollution in the National Capital Region. In passing Monday’s order, the apex court modified its October 2015 order that said ECC collected ought to be exclusively used for augmenting public transport and improving roads, particularly for most vulnerable users, that is, cyclists and pedestrians in Delhi.

Delhi government’s counsel told that court that the government would require some time to study the idea. “We are also considering the same project but the question of who should fund the project must be decided by the court," he said.

Reacting strongly, the court said the state government needs to be progressive and forward looking and not be obstructionist. “Let the system progress and change. Many countries have adopted the technology several years ago," the court observed.

The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), a statutory body had recommended use of RFID system in its 10 August report submitted to the court after examining the feasibility of the system for effective and credible levy and collection of ECC.

The bench also directed the Delhi government to release 93 lakhs as fees to government owned transport consultancy service group RITES for vetting the contract or tender documents for the project within six weeks.

The apex court had last year imposed ECC on commercial vehicles entering Delhi in a bid to check pollution.

It had also directed toll collectors to put in place RFID systems at their own cost at nine main entry points, failing which the contractors would be treated as being in breach of their obligation.

“The RFID data will be supplied to the MCD and Transport Department of the Government of Delhi. The Delhi Government will install its own CCTV cameras at nine entry points and also organise surprise visits to oversee the collection of ECC and other necessary arrangements," the bench had said.

PTI contributed to this story.

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