Rulling deferred

The Supreme Court postpones its decision to ban the registration of private disel vehicles in Delhi

Published: Sunday 31 October 1999

Polluting two wheelers: will t (Credit: arvind yadav/cse)THE Supreme Court, on October 4, refused to give its ruling on the Environment Protection (Prevention and Control) Authority's (epca) recommendation to ban the registration of private diesel vehicles in the National Capital Region. The three judge bench, comprising Chief Justice A S Anand, Justice B N Kirpal and Justice V N Khare, said that it would give its response on November 24.

One of the key recommendations of the fifth progress report of the advisory committee of the epca was banning the registration of private diesel vehicles and environmentalists were hoping for a decision favouring a ban during this session. Although the report itself was not considered, as it was in the process of being circulated among the concerned parties, additional solicitor general Kirit N Raval was asked to respond to the suggestions of the EPCA.

Harish Salve, the amicus curiae (appointed to handle the public interest case by the court) drew the attention of the court to a picture of the lung of a resident of Delhi to emphasise the growing particulate load pollution in the capital. This picture stood in stark contrast to another picture of a clean lung of a resident of Himachal Pradesh. Attempts were made to prove that the black patches on the lung could have been the result of smoking, and not particulates. But Justice Anand brushed this aside with his caustic comment, "The passive smoker suffers most as he does not even know what is happening, and his interest should be protected".

Raval then tried to justify that retrofitting old buses with cng kits was not economically viable, but this argument was immediately rejected by Justice Anand who said: "We will not make any ruling that will bring back the condition of pollution prior to the April 29 order."

Two other issues came up for discussion -- pollution from two-wheelers and generators. Both Justice A S Anand and Justice B N Kirpal categorically pointed out that two-stroke engines in two wheelers were a major source of pollution and were keen that Euro norms should be applicable to two and three-wheelers as well. Justice Anand, in fact, went to the extent of saying that, "next time the order about two-wheelers may be one of the first orders we give".

The poor distribution network of the Delhi Vidyut Board (dvb) was also blamed for irregular power supply and, thus, increased use of generator sets. The apex court has asked the dvb to file its submission as to what actions it would take to rectify the situation.

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