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Supreme Court Slaps Ban On Luxury Diesel Vehicle Sales In Delhi

The court also hikes a levy on trucks entering the city as India's highly polluted capital seeks ways to tackle one of its worst-ever bouts of toxic smog

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The Supreme Court has ordered a temporary ban on the sale of large diesel cars in New Delhi and hiked a levy on trucks entering the city, as India's highly polluted capital seeks ways to tackle one of its worst-ever bouts of toxic smog.

An order passed by the Supreme Court on Wednesday bans the registration of sport-utility vehicles and other diesel cars with an engine capacity of 2,000 cc or more in Delhi and the surrounding region until March 31.

The court stopped short of banning smaller cars, but did prohibit trucks from transiting through the city to reach other states. An existing charge imposed on trucks making deliveries to Delhi itself was doubled, while all trucks over 10 years old will be banned from the capital.

Other measures in the Supreme Court order with longer-range ambitions include a demand for all taxis in the capital to replace diesel with natural gas, as well as a broad, immediate ban on burning garbage.

The National Green Tribunal, an environmental court, earlier this week ordered a ban on the registration of all diesel vehicles for nearly four weeks to help clean up the air in Delhi, one of the world's most polluted cities.

The measure unsettled both investors and automakers, who have invested heavily in diesel technology for India, long seen as a promising major auto market.

Shares in automakers have dropped on concerns over the implications of the ban in Delhi, which environmental campaigners would like to see extended in some form to other large Indian cities.

Top utility vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra's stock was trading down 4.4 per cent after the ruling on Wednesday morning, while gas stocks rose as investors bet providers would benefit from the crackdown to improve air quality.

Violations Of Traffic Rules
Delhi is also cracking down on traffic violations to make its roads more orderly.

Driving licences of traffic violators in the national capital will be suspended for three months as Delhi Traffic Police is all set to implement Supreme Court-appointed committee's recommendations.

"Seizing and suspension of driving licenses, even for the first offenders, will take place for jumping red light, drunken driving, over-speeding, using mobile phone while driving, and carrying passengers in goods vehicles," said Muktesh Chander, Special Commissioner (Traffic).

"We are going to implement the recommendations of the Supreme Court's Committee strictly from day one and all the Traffic staff have been readied to handle violators as per the new guidelines," he said.

Besides, the violations of traffic rules will also be punished with heavy fines.

Fines for first offence and subsequent offences in case of over-speeding will be Rs 400 and Rs 1,000 respectively.

In case of drunk driving, court challans will be issued and such drivers could end up paying a fine of upto Rs 2,000, besides serving jail term of upto 6 months on being sentenced by magistrate on their first offence.

On subsequent offences of drunk driving, the accused will pay fine of upto Rs 3,000, besides being sent behind bars for a period of upto 2 years, he said.

The fines for using mobile phone while driving as first and subsequent offence will be Rs Rs 1,000 and Rs 2000.

People not wearing helmets and seat belts will be fined with Rs 100 and Rs 300.