The National Green Tribunal's historic order banning 10-year-old diesel vehicles in Delhi- NCR "violated" the law and the authority to fix the age of a vehicle lies with the Executive, the government has said.
The government's made its opposition to the green panel's directive crystal clear, three months after it moved the Supreme Court seeking lifting of the ban on decade-old diesel vehicles in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).
"… the order of the tribunal goes far beyond the provisions of the law as the order are binding on all diesel vehicles of National Capital Region which are more than 10 years, without being subject to any examination," the Ministry of Heavy Industries told a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar.
In written submissions, it said "powers to fix the age of the vehicle is with the Central Government only, which has to be notified through a Gazette. Hence, the order of the NGT would be in violation of the Motor Vehicle Act.
"The MV Act mentions that the registering authority should satisfy that the vehicle will constitute a danger to the public and it is beyond reasonable repair."
Challenging the green panel's order, the Ministry said the cancellation of registration of a vehicle can be done only under the Motor Vehicles (MV) Act after giving a notice to the owner and according him an opportunity to rebut the claim that the vehicle is not roadworthy or beyond repair.
It said that "arbitrary" removal of vehicles based on age would cause economic hardship to their owners whose very livelihood may depend on them and this could lead to social unrest.
The Ministry also said the NGT has "incorrectly" noted that the vehicle density in Delhi NCR was very high as the region was a wide geographical area covering Delhi and parts of Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Hence, the vehicle density of NCR was much less than many of the mega cities of the country, the ministry said.
Earlier, the Centre had told the NGT that there was a "misconception" that only diesel polluted the environment.
Opposing the ban on decade-old diesel vehicles, the Ministry has told the tribunal that diesel was not the only polluting fuel as they have higher fuel efficiency which led to 10-15 per cent lower carbon dioxide emission compared to a petrol vehicle.
It also referred to the Delhi government's odd-even road rationing scheme and said that Central Pollution Control Board has unequivocally established that pollution levels did not come down due to reduction in vehicles.
On January 13, the Centre had moved the Supreme Court seeking lifting of the ban on 10-year-old diesel vehicles in Delhi and NCR, saying it was affecting the economically weaker sections.
Noting that diesel is the prime source of air pollution in Delhi, the NGT had held on November 26, 2014 that all diesel vehicles which are more than 10 years old, will not be permitted to ply in Delhi-NCR.