The Supreme Court on Monday indicated of considering to modify its order banning registration of new diesel luxury cars and SUVs with an engine capacity of over 2,000 cc in Delhi and national capital region.
A bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice R. Banumathi and A.K. Sikri said: "We are open to modifying the order".
The apex court also sought a concrete road map for phasing out diesel taxis from NCR from the Delhi government, the Environment Pollution Control Authority and taxi owners association.
The court also indicated that all diesel cars, depending on their price and engine capacity, must pay one-time environment cess which would be determined after "deliberations".
While doubling the environment compensation charge (ECC) for loaded commercial vehicles entering Delhi, the top court by its December 16 order had imposed a blanket ban on registration of diesel vehicles of 2,000cc and above, including SUVs, in the NCR, noting that they are prone to cause higher pollution levels and are used by the more affluent sections of society.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar said that diesel was not the only "evil" responsible for pollution and other fuels like CNG and petrol also contribute.
"Petrol emits carbon monoxide, CNG vehicles release oxides of nitrogen while diesel emits particulate matters, all of which are polluting agents, he said and referred to a report by IIT Kanpur, which holds that other sources of pollution like dust, stubble burning etc. cannot be undermined.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for IT industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), told the bench that restriction on plying of diesel-run taxis in Delhi and NCR has crippled the transportation of BPO staff as there is paucity of cabs.
Requesting the court to allow cabs that ferry BPO employees to be exempted from the ban order, Sibal said the sector employees of 250,000 people in NCR are ferried mostly by diesel cabs.