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In January, the Supreme Court barred heavy commercial vehicles from entering Delhi from national highways. Photo: Mint
In January, the Supreme Court barred heavy commercial vehicles from entering Delhi from national highways. Photo: Mint

Delhi smog: Delhi govt may file status report before NGT today

Last year, in a series of interim orders that began in October, the Supreme Court listed various steps to contain air pollution

New Delhi: While air pollution levels continue to affect Delhi, the Supreme Court is yet to intervene on the issue, unlike last year when it came up with a series of interim orders.

So far, only the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has taken cognizance of the issue, and the Delhi government is likely to file an affidavit in connection with the alarming smog and air pollution levels to the NGT on Friday.

Last year, in a series of interim orders that began in October, the Supreme Court listed various steps to contain air pollution. However, the court is yet to hear the case for immediate relief from smog this year.

In October 2015, a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur, the Supreme Court levied a green tax, or environment compensation charge, of 700 on light commercial vehicles and 1,300 on trucks entering the National Capital Region (NCR).

On 16 December, a bench of the Supreme Court led by chief justice Thakur banned the sale of diesel passenger vehicles with engine capacity of 2 litres and above till 31 March and directed taxis in Delhi and NCR to shift to CNG fuel.

In January, the court barred heavy commercial vehicles from entering Delhi from national highways 2 (Delhi-Kolkata), 10 (Punjab-Delhi) and 58 (Uttarakhand-Ghaziabad-Delhi) as well as state highway 57 (Baghpat-Ghaziabad-Delhi).

It seemed the judiciary was leading the debate on curbing air pollution in Delhi.

On Thursday, the NGT chairperson directed Delhi chief secretary K.K.Sharma to file a status report by Friday in connection with the alarming smog and air pollution levels.

The direction was issued while the NGT court was hearing a petition by former scientist of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) Mahendra Pandey to tackle the problem of dengue and chikungunya. The issue of smog came up incidentally when one of the parties told the tribunal that peaking levels of pollution have killed the mosquitoes in the city.

The Delhi government is likely to file an affidavit before the NGT on Friday.

Last month, a division bench of the Delhi high court had directed Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to ensure that crop stubble is not burnt in the states. Although the states have failed to implement the court’s order, no further measures have been taken.

Lawyers and government officers connected to the air pollution case in the apex court, who did not wish to be identified, said that the top court might be moved in the case soon but did not indicate a timeline.

“Some issues like banning diesel taxis and introducing more CNG vehicles in public transport might be taken up by the court soon. Hopefully, that will be an opportunity for us to apprise the court of current developments," said a government official involved in the case.

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