India's top court issues truck restrictions to tackle New Delhi pollution
India's leading court has ordered a temporary ban on the sale of large diesel vehicles in and around New Delhi and slapped a stiff levy on trucks entering the capital as it struggles with record pollution.
The Supreme Court also banned the entry into New Delhi of trucks over 10 years old and trucks travelling through the city.
The court ordered sales of all diesel vehicles with an engine capacity of more than 2,000cc to be halted for the next three months in the capital and nearby suburbs.
It also said all taxis in the area have to switch to compressed natural gas by March 31.
The World Health Organisation has named New Delhi the world's most polluted city, with 12 other Indian cities ranking among the worst 20.
Air pollution contributes to more than 600,000 deaths each year in India.
This year in New Delhi, environment monitoring authorities have found record levels of the tiny, inhalable particles that are measured to indicate pollution levels.
The tiny particles - called PM2.5 - are of particular concern because, with diameters no greater than 2.5 micrometres, they are small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs.
For the ordinary person, the effects of air pollution in New Delhi are palpable: heavy grey skies, difficulty in breathing and the smell of vehicle exhaust that hangs over the city.
The Supreme Court's rulings were widely welcomed by environmentalists, who said strong action was required as the city was choking with dense smog, caused by winter fog and dirty air.
Diesel vehicles spewing black clouds of exhaust, construction dust and the burning of crop stubble in farms in neighbouring states all contribute to extreme air pollution in New Delhi.