De-registered around 40 lakh "overage" vehicles, Delhi govt tells SC

The Delhi government told the Supreme Court on Thursday that out of 1.10 crore vehicles registered in the national capital, 40 lakh "overage" vehicles -- more than 15 years in case of petrol and 10 years for diesel -- have been de-registered by the transport department.

This information was shared as the top court expressed displeasure that orders passed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Supreme Court in 2015, prohibiting the plying of such old vehicles in the Delhi-national capital region (NCR), had not yet been complied with.

A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur was also informed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) that it has created social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook where citizens could lodge their complaints about pollution in Delhi-NCR.

The bench, also comprising Justices M M Shantanagoudar and S Abdul Nazeer, directed CPCB to give adequate publicity and issue advertisements about the setting up of these accounts so that citizens become aware of them and are able lodge their complaints.

The apex court told the counsel appearing for the Delhi government that the NGT's order banning plying of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles in the Delhi-NCR was passed on April 7, 2015 and an appeal against this order was dismissed by the top court on May 15, 2015.

"Three-and-a half-year have gone by but it appears that orders passed by the NGT and confirmed by this court are not being complied with yet. The counsel for Delhi government has been asked to advise his client to act with promptitude," the bench said.

Advocate Wasim A Qadri, representing Delhi government, told the bench that such vehicles would not be allowed to ply on the roads here.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A N S Nadkarni, who was appearing for the Centre and CPCB, said that the board had created accounts on Twitter and Facebook where citizens could lodge their complaints about pollution in Delhi-NCR as per the October 29 directions of the apex court.

He said 18 complaints had been received on these social media accounts till Wednesday and CPCB has also given a link on its website where one could find the list of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles in Delhi-NCR.

The ASG also referred to CPCB's 'Sameer' app where one could find Air Quality Index (AQI) and lodge complaint about pollution.

Advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the pollution matter, said 'Sameer' app was there since 2016 but if somebody tries to lodge complaint about pollution on this platform, the app crashes.

Singh told the bench that within the next few days, radio-frequency identification (RFID) would be commissioned at 13 main entry points from where commercial vehicles, including trucks, enter Delhi.

The amicus said trucks were the biggest polluters and the court should direct that those trucks which are more than 10-year-old be not allowed to enter Delhi.

Singh said that RFID would help in keeping a tab on entry of commercial vehicles in the national capital as manning of these points leads to rampant corruption.

Qadri informed the court about the time line for installation of RFID at the entry points for commercial vehicles.

He said that at Aya Nagar RFID has been installed while at entry points like Shahdara and Ghazipur, the work would be completed by November 15 and November 20 respectively.

The other entry points includes Rajokri, Kapashera, Tikri, Kondli and Kalindi Kunj.

"From where the maximum number of trucks enter Delhi? If there is some seriousness, then you should do that one first (install RFID at entry point) which have the heaviest load (of trucks and commercial vehicles)," the bench said, adding, "Do not go for soft areas first. Do hard areas first as that will have greater impact".

On the issue of burning of garbages in Delhi, the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (DSIIDC) told the court that they have taken steps.

The bench, while taking on record the DSIIDC's affidavit in this regard, said that the apex court was already seized of a matter which deals with the management of solid waste in national capital and a committee has also been formed to look into this aspect.

On October 29, the amicus had referred to a note prepared by Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) chairman which contained details and photographs of garbage burning in several parts of Delhi, including Bawana, Narela, Dwarka, Nangloi and Mundka.

The apex court had on October 29 directed the transport department to announce that plying of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles in the NCR has been banned and such vehicles would be impounded if found plying.

The court had termed as "very critical" the prevailing situation of pollution in Delhi-NCR region and had permitted the court-mandated 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 top court is seized of matters in which several issues related to air pollution in the Delhi-NCR have been raised.