Supreme Court in its latest ruling has lifted the ban on diesel vehicles with engines larger than 2,000 cc in the Delhi NCR region. The concession has been made against the clause of paying a 1% cess, which will be paid to the Delhi Pollution Control Board. The government authority will then utilise this money to find ways to lower pollution in Delhi. The payment will have to be made by the carmaker before the vehicle can be registered and hence the payment will be made on the ex-showroom prices. In case of non-payment, the vehicle will not be registered by the concerned transport authority. This news comes as a great relief for companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Tata Motors, Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota.
The SC also asked the Central Pollution Control Board to open an account in public sector banks to receive green levy from big diesel car and SUV makers.
"The transport authority would register a big diesel car or SUV only if receipt of payment of green levy is shown," the SC said.
The apex court said it will also decide whether the rate of green levy on big diesel cars be more than 1% of ex-showroom cost of the vehicle.
On the issue of whether smaller diesel cars too should be brought under the purview of payment of environment protection charge, the apex court said that it would decide later about it.
Today's verdict lifting the ban was based on an appeal by Mercedes-Benz, for whom the Delhi region represents almost a quarter of sales in the country, and an association of auto-makers. Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors and Toyota Motor Corp will also gain from the decision. Toyota had described the ban as "a corporate death sentence."
"We are ready to go with global technology, meet global standards of emissions levels, It is best to adopt global levels and stick with that, and not keep changing policy," said Vikram Kirloskar of Toyota.
The government has argued against the new green cess ordered by the Supreme Court, claiming that only parliament can approve a new tax.
All vehicle makers have repeatedly claimed in the past that vehicular pollution is not the main contributor to the worsening air quality in the Delhi NCR region. An IIT Kanpur study too had made it clear that only about 10% of the overall particulate matter is emitted by passenger vehicles.
In December, the Supreme Court temporarily banned the sale of large diesel cars with an engine capacity of 2000 cc or more to combat the capital's infamous toxic smog. Manufacturers argued that the decision would severely impact their sales and strand dealers with thousands of unsold cars.
Last month, the top environmental court in India, the National Green Tribunal, ordered authorities to stop all diesel vehicles at least 10 years old from being driven in the capital.