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CJI Dattu reveals grandson wears pollution mask, likes H Salve plea to charge trucks entering Delhi

Picture for representational purposes only, not of Dattu’s grandson
Picture for representational purposes only, not of Dattu’s grandson

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the central and Delhi governments as to why pollution compensatory charge be not levied on the trucks and commercial vehicles entering national capital and further contributing to already alarming air pollution in the city.

A bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel issued notice to both governments on an application by senior counsel Harish Salve seeking to levy of Rs 600 on light and medium trucks and Rs 1,200 on heavy trucks.

Salve appears as an amicus curiae in the environment matter.

The seriousness with which court took the matter was obvious when Chief Justice HL Dattu said: “I usually don’t ask media to report anything but I urge newspapers to report this matter on the front page.”

His comment came as Salve told the court that pollution situation was so bad that his daughter has to use a mask. To this, Chief Justice Dattu said: “Even my grandson uses mask.”

The urgency with the court has taken the matter was evident when court gave just two days time to the governments to respond to the notice as it directed the next hearing of the matter on Thursday (October 8).

Salve in his application before the court has said that “the load of pollution in ambient air (in Delhi) is already many times (higher) than is recognized as being dangerous for human health”.

“Metros in other parts of the world close down when RSPM (respirable suspended particulate matter or PM10, which is particularly toxic for human health) crosses 250 ppm. Last winter, in a place like Lodhi Garden RSPM was close to 1,000 ppm and the RSPM in this court was found to be in the unhealthy range of 200-250 ppm.”

“Other metros in the world are shut down; schools are given a day off and car and truck traffic stopped when pollution limits reach this level” but Delhi “lives with much higher levels on a daily basis even at the best of times”, Salve said in his application.

It noted that despite assurance to the court no steps have been taken so far since last year and conditions are likely to get worst with approaching winter.

Referring to the report of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) which says that the estimation of commercial vehicles entering Delhi by MCD might be a gross underestimation, Salve, in his application, says that while the civic agency says that number of commercial heavy vehicles entering Delhi was about 22,628 but a study by the Centre for Science and Environment, says that over 38,588 commercial heavy vehicles enter the city every day.

This accounted for roughly 70 percent of the commercial traffic entering and leaving the city, the application says.

Picture by Esparta Palma

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