The Supreme Court which has thrown its weight behind a permanent odd-even car formula for Delhi said it wants to ensure that the rich, who are forced to leave their cars home, are not inconvenienced while opting for the Metro as an alternative transport.On Tuesday, it asked the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to do everything to lure even the affluent towards public transport. The DMRC has been asked to explore the possibility of providing premium service where passengers can book seats in Metros by paying five-six times more than the normal fare. It is to be noted that Metro's ridership had gone up by nearly three lakh on Tuesday, the first full-fledged working day since the odd-even scheme came into force.
"Think of the people owning luxury cars like Mercedes Benz who have to leave their vehicles at home in the wake of the odd-even formula. Metro authorities can think of having special coaches and seats for such people so that they have 'dignified' place to sit and can pay higher money. They must have some space if they leave their cars at home," a bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices AK Sikri, R Banumathi said.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, who is the amicus curiae in a 1985 PIL filed by environmentalist MC Mehta, suggested that extra air-conditioned buses also be plied for them.
The court directed Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to take instruction from the DMRC on augmenting the rolling stock and increasing the frequency of service in view of the ongoing implementation of odd-even formula.
Dealing with the diesel cars ban, the court made it clear that not only new 2000 cc plus capacity cars, but the ordinary diesel ones too are under its scanner and could face the consequence for polluting Delhi's environment.
It strongly hinted that it may impose a pollution tax on all diesel cars in the Capital. It is, however, not clear it will be applicable to all those which are presently plying or new purchases. "We will first have to assess the question if diesel cars should be allowed at all. Our directions presume diesel vehicles are polluting.
For the time being our action is only on big diesel SUVs. We later plan to extend to anyone buying a diesel car. If it is correct that diesel pollutes more, a person who buys diesel vehicle should pay a polluting tax. The polluter pays principle should apply on him," said the bench. "Are your vehicles emitting oxygen?" the Supreme Court asked the lawyers for Toyota, Mercedes and Mahindra & Mahindra who want the ban on their larger diesel cars in Delhi revoked. The court for the time being refused to withdraw the ban and assured them a detailed hearing on a later date.
The SC on December 15 banned registration of diesel vehicles having engine power of more than 2,000 cc like the SUVs and luxury sedans till April 1 on a trial basis.