Delhi Air Pollution: SC reprimanded NGT, said- Right to clean air is not only for the people living in Delhi

Pankaj Prasad
Supreme Court
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court in its judgment said that Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees that the fundamental rights are equally enforceable by all and is not limited to the people of Delhi NCR.

The Supreme Court, while hearing a case related to pollution caused by heavy-duty diesel trailer trucks in and around Delhi, said that the right to clean air is not just for those living in Delhi. Other people also have rights on this. In fact, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has suggested that trucks headed towards an Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Tughlakabad, Delhi, be diverted to ICDs outside the National Capital Region (NCR). On this, the apex court has reprimanded NGT.

A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mitthal said the NGT's suggestion to divert trucks to other ICDs is inappropriate. The NGT had suggested that vehicles could be diverted to Dadri, Rewari, Ballabhgarh, Khatuwas or any other ICD around Delhi to control pollution in Delhi-NCR.

The Supreme Court in its judgment said that this direction was as if only the people living in Delhi NCR are entitled to a pollution-free environment and not the people living in other parts of the country. Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees that the fundamental rights are equally enforceable by all and is not limited to the people of Delhi NCR.

what is the matter?

A former official of the Central Warehousing Corporation had approached the NGT raising a complaint against the pollution caused by trucks coming to the ICD at Tughlakabad. He had prayed that vehicles entering the depot be diverted to areas around Delhi-NCR and non-electric trucks/trailers/trains not going to Delhi be prohibited from using the depot. The NGT had called for preparing an action plan to divert such vehicles towards Dadri, Rewari and Ballabhgarh or Khatuwas (Rajasthan). An appeal was filed in the Supreme Court against this order of NGT.

Supreme Court had issued notice in April 2019

The top court had issued a notice in this case in April 2019 and ordered not to take any punitive action against the depot operators and vehicle owners. The bench, in its judgment on Thursday, made the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways a party to the necessary compliance. Apart from this, the court urged the authority to continue the search for less polluting heavy duty vehicles (CNG/Hybrid/Electric) and directed that the recommendations of consultancy firm KPMG regarding parking of vehicles in container depots in NCR should be considered. To be implemented within the month.

Center should prepare policy on removal of heavy diesel vehicles in six months

Taking note of IPCA's report and recommendations, the Supreme Court passed some directions. The bench said that after examining the recommendations, the Government of India will formulate a policy to phase out heavy diesel vehicles and replace them with BSVI vehicles. The government will prepare an appropriate policy in this regard within six months. Now the hearing in this case will be held on July 31.