UPDATE | Hearing a PIL, Supreme Court says Delhi-NCR is witnessing an emergency-like situation. It has sought an explanation from the Centre and Delhi government, also questioning Punjab and Haryana on stubble crop burning. The top court has clarified that the odd-even matter would be heard the NGT.
Will the NGT allow these exemptions? Stay tuned for LIVE updates:
OPINION | Avoiding Aircopalypse: It's Time to Move Beyond Quick Fixes and Tackle the Root Cause of Crisis
With multiple alarm bells ringing over Delhi's horrendous air pollution situation, it is time to go beyond quick fixes and convenient solutions that have been attempted time and again, with no effect.
Delhi Minister Gopal Rai says the government is filing a review petition before the National Green Tribunal that exemptions be allowed for women and two-wheelers on odd-even days. “Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and the Cabinet are in touch with environmental scientists and experts. We are constantly monitoring the situation. Construction works are under scrutiny and water sprinkling is on,” says Gopal Rai.
New York-based Columbia University researcher V Faye McNeill says odd-even restrictions have to apply to two-wheelers and three-wheelers for the scheme to succeed. The associate professor of Chemical Engineering in the institute says the impact of the odd-even scheme fizzles out eventually as drivers find ways around the restrictions. "Two-and-three wheelers, especially those with two-stroke engines that run on mixed fuel, are important sources of pollution and they shouldn't be missed in air quality policy. They should be included in the restrictions if there is any hope for the odd-even scheme to have an impact," says McNeill.
The NGT has questioned the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government whether it is moving a modification application in the odd-even case anytime soon. “Are you approaching us or was the minister’s statement only for the press,” the bench has asked. The government was to move the tribunal over the ban on exemption to women and two-wheelers, but hasn’t yet done so.
At least 69 trains were delayed, 22 rescheduled and eight trains were cancelled due to the shallow fog in northern India. The Rejandra Nagar Terminal-New Delhi Sampoorna Kranti Express was delayed by over 24 hours while the Sitamarhi-Anand Vihar Lichavi Express was delayed by over 25 hours. The cancelled trains include — New Delhi-Varanasi Mahanama Express, Delhi-Azamgarh Kaifiyat Express, Anand Vihar-Mau Express, Sriganganagar-Delhi Intercity, Delhi-Fazlika Intercity, Delhi-Alipurdwar Mahananda Express and Raxual-Delhi Sadbhawana Express. According to the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), no flights were delayed or cancelled.
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has agreed to give urgent hearing to a PIL seeking steps to curb rising pollution in Delhi-NCR, with the CJI saying the problem cannot be ignored. The PIL has asked for concrete measures to curb crop burning in adjoining states. Uncertainty over the odd-even car rationing scheme, meanwhile, continued. The Delhi government was to approach the NGT today to oppose its ban on exemptions to women and two-wheelers. But the matter has not been listed yet.
United Airlines said it had resumed flights from Newark, New Jersey to New Delhi on Sunday, after suspending the service temporarily over concerns about poor air quality in the Indian capital. UA Flight 82 had been cancelled on Friday and Saturday, data from flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed, while the airline's website said it had waiver policies in place for passengers travelling to, from or through Delhi until Monday. UA Flight 82 has resumed operations, but "we will continue to monitor conditions over the next few days", a spokesman said.
After a brief let-up, pollution levels skyrocketed in Delhi late on Sunday with the air quality becoming hazardous, which environmental agencies consider unfit for inhalation even by healthy people. The pollution monitoring authorities said there may be some respite from Monday evening as surface winds will gain momentum. SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) said there is possibility of rains in the evening of November 14. However, experts say rain brings temporary relief, but also leads to accumulation of particulates due to high levels of moisture.
The National Green Tribunal had ordered last week that odd-even would automatically come into effect if PM10 and PM2.5 levels breached the respective danger marks of 500 and 300. PM10 or Particulate Matter 10 are fine particles in the air that are 10 micrometres or less in diameter, while the PM2.5 is 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter. Small particles less than 10 micrometres in diameter pose the greatest problems because they can lodge deep into the lungs, and some may even get into the bloodstream.
The Delhi government is likely to contend before the NGT today that bringing women drivers into the odd-even ambit may pose a security risk, while banning exemption to two-wheelers may bring additional burden to the public transport system, which it is not yet equipped to handle. It had come under fire at the green court last week for delay in implementing the car rationing scheme and that too with exemptions.
The Delhi government is set to approach the National Green Tribunal (NGT) today to oppose its ban on exemptions to women and two-wheelers in the odd-even car rationing scheme. The government had decided to bring back the plan for a third run after pollution levels reached dangerous levels in the smog-hit city. It, however, rolled it back when the NGT allowed exemptions only to CNG cars and emergency services.
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