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Impose 30% cess on diesel cars, panel tells Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: Senior advocate Harish Salvestartled the Supreme Court on Monday by presenting a report which established a direct link between death of 3,000 children annually in Delhi to the increased pollution level attributable mainly to more diesel cars on the roads. 

Salve said subsidized diesel price was almost at par with CNG, leading to a massive increase in sale of diesel cars. As a result, emissions have directly contributed in taking the ambient air quality in Delhi much beyond the danger level, especially the level of harmful respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM). 

The green bench comprising Justices A K Patnaik, S S Nijjar and F M I Kalifulla converted a report of Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority into an application and issued notices to the Centre, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and asked them to respond within three weeks. 

The report, submitted through environmentalist and EPCA member Sunita Narain, said 
CNG was cheaper than diesel by around 46.71% in 2002-03 and the gap widened to 50% between 2004 and 2009. "But in December 2013, the price differential plummeted to 7.35%. After the recent decrease in CNG price, the differential is again about 35%," it said. 

It recommended a 30% surcharge on cost of diesel cars, drastic increase in registration fee for personal cars and proportional decrease in registration fee for buses to improve ambient air quality of Delhi. 

The recommendations in the EPCA report submitted by advocate Aparajita Singh included: 

* Union of India be directed to impose additional 30% environment compensation charge on private diesel cars. Ministry of petroleum and 
natural gas be directed to invest revenue from this source to produce clean diesel (10 ppm sulphur) to enable nation-wide introduction of Euro V and Euro VI norms and scale up public transport 

* Delhi government be directed to impose higher taxes on cars and to drastically reduce taxes on buses and public transport vehicles. Other concerned governments Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan in the NCR may also be directed to take similar measures 

* Delhi government be directed to bring all the 10,000-11,000 buses on roads within a year or face contempt 

* Delhi government, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and New Delhi Municipal Council be directed to increase parking charges effectively; demarcate legal parking areas and impose higher penalty for illegal parking to cut congestion 

After reading the radical suggestions against diesel cars, the bench found Narain inside the court and said, "We hope there is no counter attack against her (from lobbies)." 

The Times of India (11-02-2014)