The Supreme Court on Wednesday doubled the environment compensation charge (ECC) for loaded commercial vehicles entering Delhi and imposed a blanket ban on registration of diesel vehicles of 2,000 cc and above in the National Capital Region (NCR).
A bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice R. Banumathi said no commercial vehicle registered prior to 2005 will enter Delhi and all taxis will have to switch over to CNG by March 1, next year.
However, the decision was dubbed inappropriate by car dealers in the city who insisted that the ban should have been imposed on all categories for SUVs if pollution was the only reason behind the ban of high end diesel SUV cars.
“What type of decision is this? Why ban SUVs of 2,000 cc and above and not all SUVs if pollution is really an issue?
“We will have to cancel all our advance bookings for bulky SUVs. As per the Supreme Court decision, only two of our SUVs — Quanto and TUV 300 — can be sold. We are going to face huge job cuts this way,” Sachin Chaudhary, branch manager at Delhi-based Koncept Mahindra, told IANS.
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), however, supported the Supreme Court’s ruling and said: “The current emissions standards in India legally allow diesel cars to emit more particulate matter and nitrogen oxides — which are the most serious pollutants of concern in our city’s air — than petrol cars.”
According to Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), diesel cars emit five times more particulate matter and seven times more total air toxins compared to petrol cars.
According to reports, SUV sales of above 2000 cc and other in November was about 20,000 units, while the diesel version of Maruti’s Swift Dzire alone sold over 21,000.
Anand Mahindra, chairman and managing director of Mahindra and Mahindra Group, tweeted: “So even if we believe the decision on diesel vehicles isn’t optimal, we’ll honour it and develop vehicles that comply with their stipulations.”
In fact, M&M, the country’s third largest automaker with a market share of 7.86 percent, will be the worst hit by the judgment as it has a massive lineup of diesel SUVs and utility vehicles. Its best-selling vehicles — Scorpio and XUV 500 — too have a 2,179 cc engine.
Banning registration of SUVs and private cars of and above 2,000 cc engine capacity using diesel as fuel up to March 31, the apex court said: “We are of the view that the new commercial light duty diesel vehicles can for the present continue being registered in Delhi on account of the dependence of the public on such vehicles for supply of essentials.”
On the other hand, 100 percent increase in ECC would mean that light commercial vehicles with two axles loaded with goods will pay Rs.1,400 and loaded commercial vehicles with three and four axles will pay Rs.2,600 to enter Delhi.
However, empty commercial vehicles in both categories would continue to pay the old ECC of Rs.700 and Rs.1,300, respectively.
The court noted that its October 7 order imposing the ECC was intended to restrain non-Delhi bound vehicles from entering the national capital. But it appears to have been understood to mean that vehicles not bound for Delhi could also enter by paying ECC.
Having doubled the ECC for the loaded commercial vehicles, the court said commercial vehicles “registered in 2005 or earlier shall not qualify for such entry” and asked state governments and union territories to ensure that vehicles bearing registration numbers of 2005 or earlier do not enter Delhi.
The apex court also directed that all taxis including those operating under aggregators like Ola and Uber in the NCT shall move to CNG not later than March 1, next year. The private taxi service providers supported the decision.
“Pollution and congestion are two major issues that are plaguing lives of citizens of Delhi which can only be resolved through a collaborative effort by the government, courts, public and private transport operators. We support the Supreme Court’s ruling that encourages better air conditions and environment for the city,” said Meru cab providers in a statement.
“CNG fuel is ideal for a city like Delhi where supply is not an issue. Currently operating at full capacity, Meru will be augmenting more CNG cabs in the capital,” the statement said.