Green bench orders pollution fee for trucks entering Delhi

All commercial vehicles entering Delhi must pay an environmental compensation charge in addition to toll tax, the National Green Tribunal ruled on Wednesday.

The tribunal ordered the compensation be payable at the rate of Rs 700 for two-axle vehicles, Rs 1,000 for three-axle vehicles and Rs 500 for four-axle and above.

It also ruled all vehicles destined for places other than Delhi be diverted at Panipat via NH-71A or NH-71 and exit at Bawal in Haryana.

Environmental NGO Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had claimed on Tuesday that the actual number of trucks entering Delhi was 70 per cent more than the official estimate.

On a daily basis, 38,588 commercial vehicles (excluding taxis) enter Delhi only from the said nine locations, a study by CSE showed.

If that is extrapolated to the 127 entry points into Delhi, then a total of 52,146 commercial vehicles (excluding taxis) enter the national capital, said the study, which measured vehicles in both directions. The daily average number of light and heavy goods vehicles entering and exiting from the nine points was 85,799, it noted. The total number of commercial light and heavy trucks entering and leaving the city is 115,945 each day, the report added.

Going by the sample data available with CSE, Rs 1.43 crore could be raked in daily by the announced environment tax. The amount thus collected will be paid to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), which will maintain a separate account. The tribunal directed the Central Pollution Control Board and DPCC to arrange for checking emissions of moving heavy vehicles.

Delhi Motor Truck Owners Union, an association of truckers, filed a separate petition with the National Green Tribunal against its earlier ban on old diesel vehicles, seeking directions that fitness and not age be the criterion for pulling out polluting vehicles.

Lawyer Tariq Adeeb representing the truckers said, "We will wait for further directions on the matter. Arguments on both sides are left to be heard."

Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar agreed on Wednesday that air pollution in Delhi is severe, especially with winter approaching.

He said his ministry had prepared a 12-month plan to be implemented by Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi. "An annual plan has been given. If even 89-90 per cent is implemented, it will really help," Javadekar said.

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