New Delhi, October 7
Acting tough to curb pollution in the national capital, the National Green Tribunal today directed all commercial vehicles entering Delhi to pay environmental compensation charge in addition to the toll tax.
The green panel ordered that the compensation would be payable at the rates of Rs 700 for two-axle vehicles, Rs 1,000 for three-axle and Rs 500 for four-axle and above.
“It is a conceded position before us that vehicular pollution is one of the main sources of inferior quality of air in Delhi.... Nearly 66,000 heavy commercial vehicles enter Delhi daily. It is stated before us that low toll tax is an incentive for heavy vehicles to pass through Delhi rather than taking alternate route which will reduce pollution...
“It will be in our considered view, appropriate to direct the check posts to charge transport heavy vehicles entering Delhi as their final destination or enroute to other places entering from Sonepat to pay environmental compensation in addition to toll tax payable," a bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The bench noted that the charges payable by heavy vehicles at toll tax in Delhi was Rs 600 while in Haryana it is varied from Rs 930 to Rs 1,550 depending on the kind of trucks entering the state.
The bench also made it clear that all vehicles destined for places other than Delhi shall be diverted at Panipat to take alternate route via NH-71A and NH-71 and exit at Bawal in Haryana.
"The trucks which are not destined to Delhi and have not taken alternate route would not be permitted to enter the capital and would be returned to Panipat to take alternate route," the Tribunal said.
It also directed that the additional amount collected in form of environment compensation by the check posts would be paid to Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) which will maintain a separate account.
"The collected amount would be used for improving the ambient air quality of the capital," the bench said.
It also directed Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and DPCC to purchase or arrange instruments for checking emission of moving overloaded heavy vehicles.
During the proceedings, advocate Bhakti Pasrija Sethi, appearing for Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA), submitted before the bench that higher charges on vehicles would not have any impact on reducing air pollution.
“They can pay more tax and still cause pollution. How can we deal with the issue of air pollution this way," she asked.
The green panel reiterated that all its earlier orders, including ban on 10-year-old vehicles, would continue to be in force "without any change" and directed all concerned authorities to carry out its orders in true letter and spirit.
The NGT also asked the Joint Commissioners of Delhi and Haryana Police (Traffic) to deliberate on alternate route from Gurgaon and Ghaziabad.
The green bench directed the Haryana government and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to expedite the work on Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways to ease traffic congestion in the capital.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for NHAI, told the Tribunal that work has been awarded on the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and work on the project would start shortly.
The bench is deliberating on mechanism to devise an alternative route for commercial vehicles passing through the city to decongest the roads and reduce vehicular emissions.
On August 31, a meeting was held in the Delhi Police headquarters here where an alternate route via NH-71A and NH- 71 (Panipat-Rohtak-Jhajjar-Bawal) was proposed.
Delhi Police had said that this new route suggested by NHAI was four-lane and hence adequate to cater to the traffic of more than 50,000 PCUs (passenger car units).
"The distance of the diverted route i.e. through Panipat-Rohtak-Jhajjar-Bawal diversion is 166 km whereas the distance for route through New Delhi is 174 km," it had said.
Two days ago, the Supreme Court, in a case related to air pollution, had asked the Centre and Delhi government to respond to a plea seeking levy of 'pollution compensatory charges', along with toll tax, on commercial vehicles plying in the national capital. — PTI
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