The Supreme Court refused on Saturday to give more time to taxi operators in the National Capital Region (NCR) to switch from diesel to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), even as they pleaded there is no technology available in the market to convert them to the cleaner fuel.
The SC was holding a special hearing to deal with pleas arising in a 1984 public interest litigation on pollution filed by environmentalist MC Mehta, including the plea of major automobile manufacturers, seeking the ban on registration of high-end diesel cars with engine capacity of 2000cc in the NCR be lifted.
A number of cab operators and their associations urged the court for an extension of the deadline, but a bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur, justice AK Sikri and justice R Banumathi refused the request.
“We are not going to extend any further the deadline,” the three-judge bench said, observing that “extensions have been given and (you) should have thought about alternatives by now”.
The deadline for the change had been extended twice. The apex court had initially asked diesel cab operators in the NCR to switch over to CNG by March 1. That deadline was later extended to March 31 and then to April 30.
The ban on registration of diesel vehicles will also continue till further order.
The court adjourned the hearing on the matter related to steps to be taken to curb alarming increase in air pollution in the national capital until May 9.
The SC, however, allowed Delhi Police and Delhi Jal Board to register their new diesel-run vehicles with an engine capacity of 2000 cc and above for transportation of undertrial prisoners, arms and ammunition and supply of water.
The bench comprising asked Delhi Police to pay 30% of the real value of the vehicle to be purchased by it as Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) or green cess as a pre-condition for their registration with the transport department.
The bench even exempted DJB from paying the green cess on the ground that around 250 water tankers would be supplying water to the citizens of the city.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the Delhi government, said that DJB has phased out 270 water tankers as they were 10 years old and 250 new tankers have to be registered with the transport authority.
She sought modification of the earlier apex court order by which it had barred registration of all diesel-run vehicles of the engine capacity of 2000 cc and above in Delhi and the NCR.
Jaising further said that CNG-run water tankers are not available and hence the diesel ones needed to be registered.
Simultaneously, additional solicitor general Pinky Anand, appearing for Delhi Police, sought the nod of the apex court on the need to register the diesel-run vehicles of the force.
She further said that around 190 vehicles are to be purchased by the police department for purposes like transportation of undertrial prisoners, arms and ammunitions and they are also required for mobilising the force in emergency situations.
The court allowed the plea of police and said that its vehicles will be registered on payment of ECC.