New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and Delhi government to positively respond to a plea seeking levy of ‘pollution compensatory charges’, along with toll tax, on commercial vehicles plying in the national capital, with the Chief Justice and a senior lawyer observing that they and their kin too were victims of the alarming pollution levels.
“My grandson wears mask due to pollution,” Chief Justice H L Dattu said when senior advocate Harish Salve submitted that he had to take steroid for the first time a few days ago. “My wife has asthma. My daughter has asthma and I had to take steroid first time two days back,” Salve said.
“This is a serious issue. We will take up this matter on Thursday. We want positive response,” a bench of the CJI and Justices Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goel said.
Seeking enforcement of principle of Environment Law that the polluter has to pay, Salve, who is the amicus curiae in a 1985 PIL filed by environmentalist M C Mehta, termed the situation as “alarming” and sought urgent intervention before it worsens further due to onset of winter.
Salve, during the hearing, referred to the report of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for NCR (EPCA) and said a large number of commercial vehicles opt Delhi and NCR roads, instead of the highways, as it is cheaper to traverse through the capital city.
The apex court has now asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Centre and the counsel for the Delhi government and civic agencies to come prepared on Thursday when it will take up the fresh plea filed by Salve.
Earlier, it had agreed to hear the plea seeking directions for the Centre, Delhi Government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to ensure that “commercial vehicles entering the city of Delhi are required to pay a sum of not less than Rs 600 (for LCV and 2-axle) and not less than Rs 1200 (for 3-axle and above).
“This pollution compensatory charge will be imposed in addition to the toll charge imposed by MCD,” the plea had said.
Seeking imposition of “pollution compensatory charges” on commercial vehicles, the plea said that most of the commercial vehicles opted Delhi roads to avoid paying more to national highways tolls.
The plea said “one serious cause of PM load and NOx load and which is primarily on account of economic considerations, is the pollution load being inflicted upon the National Capital Territory (NCT) by heavy traffic (trucks) which originate in parts of north India and are on their way to south and from south to north, cutting through the city and as a result adding greatly to its pollution load.”
The plea has also sought a direction that “all collection of toll for vehicles entering Delhi be switched to the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) system of collection of toll on and from the 1st of December 2015.” It also said children and senior citizens were the “most vulnerable groups” affected by air pollution which is mostly caused by particulate matter (PM) load.