Still The City Of Smog
Tehelka|October 24 2015
Still The City Of Smog
Levying a pollution tax on trucks entering Delhi may be a good step, but it could be a case too little, too late.
Nidhin Chandran And Deepti Sreeram

On 5 October, a Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) HL Dattu and Justices Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goel expressed concern over the national capital’s acute air pollution problem. Hearing an application moved by amicus curiae Harish Salve on levying surcharge to trucks entering the city, Dattu reportedly stated how his “own grandson wears a mask” to school.

Urging the government to take cognisance of the rising pollution levels, the CJI also asked the Delhi government to consider the suggestion of levying the surcharge. “Delhi’s climate has changed a lot over the past 50 years and we are already quite late in taking any safety measures,” says Anumita Roychowdhury, research and advocacy head (air pollution) at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). “Yet, the court’s move is a welcome one. However, it will be in vain if there are no additional measures to curb the pollution caused by the plying of trucks and other outbound diesel vehicles through Delhi. Numbering nearly 1.15 lakh, these contribute a 30 percent share of the total pollution.”

According to a recent CSE study, trucks that travel through the capital cause almost one-third of the particulate matter pollution and 22 percent of the nitrogen oxide pollution in Delhi. The study also revealed that the number of trucks entering Delhi was higher than the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) figures. A 24X7 video recording of nine key entry points done by CSE showed that the number of trucks entering through those entry points was 71 percent more than what the MCD claimed.

“The fact that two proposed express highway projects got delayed is also additional reason to have checks on these vehicles for age and emissions,” read the report. “There is also the option of providing them with an alternate cheaper route, the tax from which could then be used to the benefit of public transports. Even though the discussion is now on the trucks and outbound diesel vehicles, it could in the next phase be taken to consider other vehicles as well. Controlling pollution will need drastic steps, therefore a well laid plan will be necessary before acting them out.”

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October 24 2015