Top court grants reprieve to new, large diesel vehicles in India's national capital, but with 'green tax'

Top court grants reprieve to new, large diesel vehicles in India's national capital, but with 'green tax'

The news was welcomed by the auto industry after a series of lower court rulings banned diesel vehicles, both new and old, on concerns that their exhaust fumes were contributing to Delhi's deepening air pollution crisis. Photograph: (Reuters)

New Delhi, Delhi, India Aug 12, 2016, 06.50 PM (IST)
India's top court today lifted a ban on the registration of new high-end diesel vehicles in the national capital, New Delhi after carmakers said they had been left stranded with thousands of unsold sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

Car manufacturers would, however, have to pay a one per cent green tax to compensate for polluting the city's air, the Supreme Court said in its ruling which would impact vehicles with engine capacity of two litres or more, typical of SUVs, jeeps and other luxury cars.

"Deposit of one per cent levy alone shall entitle manufacturers or dealers and purchasers to have the car registered in Delhi," a bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur ruled. The court also said that it would decide at a later date on whether to impose the green tax on diesel vehicles with smaller engines.

India's courts have been pushing authorities to act over the filthy air in Delhi, which has been rated as one of the world's most polluted cities in surveys.

Last December, the Supreme Court temporarily banned the sale of large diesel cars in an attempt to clean up the capital's toxic air. More than 23 per cent of the cars on Delhi roads run on diesel, according to the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment think tank.

Friday's verdict came after an appeal by auto giant Mercedes-Benz and an association of auto-makers who said the ban was impacting their sales adversely.

Shares of Mahindra and Mahindra and Maruti Suzuki India ended the day higher following the latest ruling.

It may also be recalled that India's environment court last month ordered all diesel vehicles older than 10 years be deregistered in the national capital. 
 
India's courts have been pushing authorities to act over the filthy air in Delhi, which has been rated as one of the world's most polluted cities in surveys.

The national green tribunal (NGT) directed Delhi's regional transport office to cancel registrations immediately, after police complained of struggling to force the affected cars off the roads.

Delhi's dangerous smog levels have been ranked  as among the worst  globally by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The Delhi government has announced a string of measures including driving restrictions in January and in April that took around a million cars off the roads for two weeks.  But with nearly 10 million vehicles on Delhi's roads, campaigners say much more needs to be done.

A WHO study of 3,000 cities released in May placed Delhi in 11th position based on annual average concentration of PM2.5 particles. These particles, less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, are linked to higher rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease as they settle deep in the lungs and can pass into the bloodstream.


(AFP) 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

'Deposit of 1% levy alone shall entitle manufacturers or dealers and purchasers to have the car registered in Delhi,' the bench said

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