The Supreme Court had, on October 12, directed authorities to impose an additional 'green tax' on trucks and commercial vehicles entering Delhi from November 1
At around midnight on Sunday, a group of experts and officials were at Delhi's border with Gurgaon for a surprise inspection. What they learnt is this - the Supreme Court had imposed a green tax of Rs 700 and Rs 1,300 on commercial vehicles entering Delhi, but on Day 1, not a single rupee had been charged.
"Do it for your children and your children's children," pleaded Bhure Lal, chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority, trying to convince a toll plaza in-charge to follow the court's order.
The toll officer, Dinesh Sharma, shot back: "What happens if a truck refuses to pay, we don't have the authority to force them to pay."
The private company, which is in charge of collecting toll tax for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, has said it cannot collect the "additional green tax".
"This is contempt of court," said noted environmentalist Sunita Narain, who is also a member of the court's green panel.
Delhi's Transport Secretary Parimal Rai also arrived at the spot along with a dozen policemen to see why no tax was being collected.
"One the arguments of the toll collection company is that if they charge cess, then less trucks will come or they will refuse to pay and this will lead to reduction of toll," said Sunita Narain, adding sarcastically: "So we basically want the trucks to keep coming to Delhi with their pollution."
The various stakeholders have planned a meeting on Wednesday to try and see if there is a way out before the next Supreme Court hearing on November 16.
Earlier this month, the top court imposed an 'Environment Compensation Charge' on commercial vehicles entering Delhi, in addition to the toll tax, beginning November 1 for four months on a trial basis, in an attempt to check the notoriously high pollution levels in Delhi.