Odd-even scheme called off in Delhi after NGT issues riders

The Hindu

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 The government will go back to the NGT on Monday to file a review, says Transport Minister.

The Delhi government on Saturday deferred the roll out of odd-even scheme, its car rationing programme that was to remain in force from November 13 to 17, after the National Green Tribunal said exemptions given to two-wheelers and cars driven by women would have to go.

The Aam Aadmi Party government had announced on Thursday that it would implement odd-even scheme for a third time in order to control pollution.

While dangerously high levels of pollution had persisted from Tuesday till Thursday, the particulate matter levels began reducing from Friday. On Saturday, the air quality index was still in the severe category, but down to 403, from 486 on Thursday, as per the Central Pollution Control Board. The NGT had on Friday asked the Delhi government to provide a justification for implementing odd-even from November 13, when pollution levels were forecast to reduce.

On Saturday, the NGT directed the Delhi government to implement the scheme, but on a condition that there would be “no exemption to any person, officer or individual, including two-wheelers from the odd even scheme”. A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said that the orders have to be complied with strict rigour. It said emergency services vehicles like ambulances and fire brigades were exempted from the scheme.

Why exempt bikes

Following submissions made by the counsel appearing for the CPCB with respect to two-wheelers contributing 20% of vehicular pollution, the NGT observed: “According to them [CPCB], firstly the two-wheelers are much more in number than other class of vehicles and secondly, they emit serious pollutants like carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon which are not emitted or negligibly emitted by the petrol vehicles.”

Rapping the Delhi government, the bench asked: “If less vehicles pollute more and more vehicles pollute less, what would you choose? Why do you not remove 1,000 scooters and put 500 other vehicles instead?”.

Following the hearing, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called a meeting with the Health, Transport, Environment and Development Ministers, as well as senior officers.

While welcoming the NGT’s decision to allow odd-even, the government decided to “defer” the rollout of odd-even, as per a statement.

The Transport Minister said that with over 60 lakh two-wheelers registered in Delhi, there are not enough buses and other public transport means to accommodate even half of them on a given day. .

He added that the government would move an application before the NGT on Monday to review its order.

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