The Supreme Court on Monday prohibited the plying of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles in the national capital region and directed the transport departments concerned to announce that such vehicles would be impounded if found plying.Terming as “very critical” and “horrible” the prevailing pollution situation in Delhi-NCR region, the apex court directed that a list of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles be published on the web site of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and transport department. A Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta said that advertisement on this should also be published in the newspapers. The Bench directed the CPCB to immediately create a social media account on which citizens could lodge their complaint about pollution on which appropriate action could be taken by the authorities concerned. It permitted the court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) to take pre-emptive steps under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) without strict adherence to pollution stages delineated in the plan. GRAP is aimed at tackling air pollution in Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas and it is designed to take urgent remedial action when air quality deteriorates. The apex court passed these directions on a note placed before it by advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the air pollution matter, seeking urgent directions to correct the prevailing situation of pollution. Earlier, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) also banned the plying of such vehicles in the NCR and the apex court had rejected a plea against the NGT’s order. During the hearing on Monday, the bench referred to media reports that people should not go on morning walk due to the high levels of pollution. “Have you gone to old Delhi railway station? Poor people there have to work to earn their livelihood. The kind of exertion they undergo is much more than those walking in the morning at Lodhi Gardens,” the Bench told Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre. “They are doing heavy duty manual work. You cannot tell them that you stop your work because it is unsafe for you to work in the morning. This is a very critical situation,” the bench said, adding, “It is horrible”. The Bench told Nadkarni that authorities would have to do their work properly and find out solutions to avoid such situation as prevailing in Delhi.
Nadkarni told the court that he supports the suggestion given by the amicus about creating a social media account so that citizens could lodge complaints about pollution.The amicus referred to a note prepared by EPCA chairman which contained details and photographs of garbage burning in several parts of Delhi, including Bawana, Narela, Dwarka, Nangloi and Mundka. The bench, after perusing the photographs, termed it as "terrible state of affairs" and asked the Delhi government and Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (DSIIDC) to file their affidavits in this regard within two days. The court has posted the matter for hearing on November 1. Singh told the bench that citizens in the national capital are facing health emergency due to pollution and currently the air quality was under "very poor" level. She said that Badarpur power plant and coal based power plants have been closed in Delhi and EPCA has given directions which are meant to deal with "severe" air quality level. "The problem is always of implementation (of directions passed by the court). Implementation is at such a dismal pace. They (authorities) have got a good excuse in crop burning today. But in Delhi, people will continue to drive their luxury diesel vehicles. Farmers who are in distress are forced to buy farm equipments but people in Delhi will continue to maintain luxury," she added. She further said that only farmers cannot be blamed for pollution due to crop burning as the Ministry of Earth Sciences has said that pollution load from transport was around 41 per cent. She referred to issue of garbage burning, including that of plastics, in several parts of Delhi and told the bench that every year, the same issue was raised before the court. Singh said that social media account should be created on Facebook or Twitter so that people could lodge complaints about pollution. "Mere talking is not enough. When pollution is at serious level, they (authorities) talk but after that they go on sleeping," the amicus said, adding that the use of colour-coded stickers which would indicate the nature of fuel being used in the vehicles have not been implemented yet. The counsel appearing for transport department of Delhi government said no 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles should ply on roads and no fitness certificate was issued to such vehicles beyond this period. The amicus told the bench that EPCA wanted liberty from the court to take pre-emptive steps under the GRAP without waiting for the time indicated in the plan. The top court is seized of matters in which several issues related to air pollution in the Delhi-NCR have been raised.