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Trucks shouldn't use Delhi for transit, Dushyant Dave tells SC for Delhi gov't

The central government on Thursday said that non-Delhi bound trucks and commercial vehicles have no business to use the capital as a transit route as the Supreme Court sought suggestions on ways and means to levy pollution compensatory charges on them for contributing to already alarming air pollution levels.

Addressing the court, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar said that vehicles not carrying Delhi- bound goods should not enter Delhi.

“There is no incentive for anybody to pass through Delhi if goods (being carried) are not be dropped in Delhi. If it (vehicle) doesn’t have to drop goods in Delhi it must not enter Delhi,” he said.

As the central government expressed its stand, the bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also asked the presence of Haryana government counsel to respond to the suggestion that several thousand commercial vehicles trying to pass through the national capital for their onward journey should be diverted from Rewari to Panipat.

Seeking suggestions, the court asked Ranjit Kumar, senior counsel Dushyant Dave appearing for Delhi government and amicus curiae Harish Salve to hammer out some steps that could be directed to be taken for levying the pollution compensatory charge on the trucks and commercial vehicles entering national capital while going to other states.

Dave told the court that the Delhi government will work with municipal corporation for levying the pollution compensatory charge.

The court asked the three to sit together as Salve said: “We have suggestions how it (pollution compensatory charge) has to work. We will among ourselves work out the protocol.”

While directing hearing of the matter at 10.30 a.m. on Friday, the court directed its registry to obtain an order passed by the National Green Tribunal on the non-Delhi bound commercial vehicles entering Delhi and make it available to Ranjit Kumar, Dave and Salve.

At the outset of the hearing, Dave told the court that the Delhi government was agreeable to imposing the levy with immediate effect on the trucks and commercial vehicles using national capital as a transit for their onward journey.

Dispelling the court’s apprehensions that imposing the charge at the entry points may result in traffic jams, Salve noted that the Delhi Municipal Corporation was already collecting the toll at the notified entry points.

He told the court that pollution compensatory charge could be termed as adjudicated cess and not tax as later has the sanction of law.

The apex court on 5 October had asked the central and Delhi governments as to why this charge should not be levied on the trucks and commercial vehicles using Delhi as a transit for their onward journey to other states.

The court had sought the response on an application by Salve seeking to levy the charge of not less than Rs 600 on light and medium trucks and Rs 1,200 on heavy trucks and commercial vehicles.

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 had said that while municipal corporation 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 had said.

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