Giving a breather

The Supreme Court extends the deadline to introduce cleaner petrol and diesel in the capital

Published: Thursday 15 June 2000

-- on may 10, the Supreme Court announced a clear schedule for supply of cleaner petrol and diesel to the capital. The apex court has directed the ministry of petroleum and natural gas ( mpng ) to supply petrol with 0.05 per cent sulphur to the entire National Capital Region ( ncr ) of Delhi by May 31 this year. The mpng will also have to start supplying petrol with one per cent benzene content from October 1 to the National Capital Territory ( nct ), which comprises only Delhi, and from March 31, 2001 to the entire ncr , including other towns from the neighbouring states such as New Okhla Industrial Development Area ( noida) , Faridabad, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad.

However, the court's recent rulings on increased use of diesel seem to be on a milder note. In its May 5 hearing,the Chief Justice bench had insistedthat diesel with 0.05 per cent sulphur would have to be supplied to ncr by October 1 this year, failing which the court would even consider banning registration of diesel vehicles. But on May 10, the bench postponed this deadline.

As the court's directive stands, the mpng would have to supply diesel with 0.05 per cent sulphur diesel to the nct by December 31 and to the entire ncr from June 30, 2001 (see table: SC fuel quality deadline )

Additional solicitor general Kirit N Raval came up with a plethora of excuses for mpng not being able to supply better quality fuel to the capital. Due to lack of storage and distribution facilities, Raval pleaded for extension of the deadline to supply cleaner fuel to the capital. The court, however, did not agree to Raval's time schedule saying that the mpng had earlier said that they would not be able to supply unleaded petrol but, under pressure from the court, they had ultimately succeeded in doing so much earlier.

The court also reiterated its stance on disallowing autos more than 10 years old from converting to compressed natural gas ( cng) . These autos would have to be replaced with new vehicles on clean fuels such as cng or bi-fuel mode. The court has also drawn out a clear guideline as regards the capacity of the petrol tank to be fitted in commercial vehicles running on cng , as petrol in these vehicles would be used only in emergencies when cng is not available. According to the court directive, the petrol tank should not exceed five litres in four-wheelers, three litres in three-wheelers and two litres in two-wheelers.

SC fuel quality deadline
Supply of petrol with 0.05 per cent sulphur to NCR* May 31, 2000
Supply of petrol with 1 per cent benzene to NCT** October 1, 2000
Supply of petrol with 1 per cent benzene to NCR March 31, 2001
Supply of diesel with 0.05 per cent sulphur to NCT December 31, 2000
Supply of diesel with 0.05 per cent sulphur to NCR June 30, 2001
*      National Capital Region (including other towns from the neighbouring states such as Noida, Faridabad, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad)
**    National Capital Territory (only Delhi)

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