NGT gives Delhi government nod to implement odd-even scheme

In a meeting attended by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal approved the EPCA’s decision to enforce measures enlisted under the “severe plus” or emergency category of the Graded Response Action Plan

The green court asked the government to remove exemptions given to women drivers, two-wheelers as well as government servants.

The scheme, which had evoked major controversy in Delhi, had been tried in other cities of the world in the past, including Mexico, Paris, Bogota and Beijing. "This government gives the highest priority to the safety and security of women", he said.

The NGT also asked the Delhi Traffic Police to deploy its personnel at traffic lights, observing that nearly all the main roads in the city are witness to diesel vehicles which are older than 10 years and petrol vehicles which are older than 15 years. The government would file a review petition on Monday in the NGT requesting to give exemptions to two wheelers and women.

"The odd-even will go on".

Taking serious cognisance of the Delhi smog, which has made breathing impossible in the state and the National Capital Region, it slammed the government for acting late on the worsening pollution levels and not applying the odd-even rule earlier.

So at the moment we are calling it off.

Though the Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gehlot on Friday said that commuters can travel for free in Delhi Transport Corporation buses during the odd-even scheme, the National Green Tribunal has questioned its effectiveness and opposed it.

It added that removing two-wheelers from the list of exemptions would put a larger number of people under hardship since the city has a "large number of two wheelers". "This is not feasible to arrange such a large number of buses at this stage", a Delhi government statement said.

The tribunal directed to implement the odd-even "right away" without waiting for 48 hours, in case PM2.5 and PM10 go beyond 400 and 700 units respectively.

Both the pollution control organisations also submitted that two-wheelers are more polluting than four-wheelers and their emissions comprise 20 per cent of the total vehicular pollution.

"Why shall your officials not be imprisoned for violation of its order putting a ban on construction activities", Justice Kumar said.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) told the tribunal that they had warned the Kejriwal government orally in advance about the impending problem.

The NGT also asked the Delhi government the rationale behind applying the odd-even scheme, and why it wasn't applied when the air quality situation was worse.