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New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has barred vehicles that are more than 15 years old from plying in Delhi in an attempt to curb vehicular pollution and improve the air quality in Delhi, the worst in the world by some measures.

The NGT, which noted that an interim report submitted by the ministry for environment and forests (MoEF) was “generic" and failed to include any actual steps taken by it to control vehicular pollution, said it was instituting this measure and others till the government comes up with a plan to tackle poor air quality in Delhi.

According to AQIcn’s real-time air quality index, for several days in November, the quality of air in most Delhi neighbourhoods was worse than that in Beijing.

At 9.30pm IST Wednesday, it was 515 in Beijing, 999 in Anand Vihar, New Delhi, and 393 in RK Puram, New Delhi.

Highlighting that it was the responsibility of the government to “provide clean air to the people to breathe", a bench headed by the chairperson of the NGT, Swatanter Kumar, has also barred parking on roads to prevent traffic congestion, recommended tracks for cyclists along main roads, and mandated regular inspection of all Delhi Transport Corporation buses to ensure their emissions are under control.

The NGT has also asked the government to consider installing air purifiers in public places, and to ensure that overloaded trucks do not ply within the city.

It has also banned the burning of leaves, plastic and just about anything else.

The NGT will next hear the case on 9 January, by when all concerned authorities have to submit compliance reports.

“There was concern that this drastic step was coming for some time. In the last few years, while India has adopted emission norms like the Bharat Stage III, the air quality has not improved. There are a number of reasons for this including the use of old vehicles. I think the auto industry will support this development," said Sugato Sen, deputy director general of auto industry lobby group Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

Forcing old vehicles off the roads could result in some increase in the sale of new ones.

Shreeja Sen and Shauvik Ghosh contributed to this story.

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