In a crackdown on polluting vehicles, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed that no annual insurance renewal would be allowed without a valid Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate for all types of automobiles.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta ordered the insurance companies to refuse renewal requests for vehicles without pollution certificates.

The court accepted the recommendations of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) to ensure mandatory linking of PUC certificate with the issuance of annual vehicle insurance.

“This is a development with far-reaching consequences for the battle to stop air pollution in the country,” said Sunita Narain, director general, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

The court acted on a report prepared by the EPCA that showed a very poor level of compliance with the PUC programme.

In Delhi, only 23% of vehicles come for PUC tests. With mandatory linking of annual vehicle insurance with valid PUC certificate, the compliance level can improve significantly, especially as the Supreme Court has directed its enforcement nationwide, the CSE said.

The court also directed for establishing PUC centres in all fuel stations. It directed for putting in place an all-India real time online system to ensure pollution certificates would not be manipulated.

The EPCA has suggested for limiting the number of PUC centres in Delhi and theNCR as these are very difficult to supervise to prevent malpractices. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, represented by Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, said it would issue an advisory to state transportation departments to have PUC centres in all fuel stations.

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