Delhi Pollution: NGT Blocks Odd-even Rollout, Says Kejriwal Govt Treats it Like a Picnic
The green court directed the Arvind Keriwal government to submit data or studies on the basis of which it has planned to introduce the odd-even car rationing scheme for five days from next week.
A policeman manages traffic at a busy junction while wearing a mask to protect himself against pollution. (Photo Credit Getty Images)
New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on Friday termed the Delhi government’s odd-even scheme a “farce’ and slammed the brakes on the road-rationing plan, saying that it cannot be implemented without its nod.
“The odd-even formula can't be imposed like this. Nothing has been done from your end for the past one year,” the top environmental court said while rebuking the Delhi government.
It directed the Arvind Keriwal government to submit data or studies on the basis of which it has planned to introduce the odd-even car rationing scheme for five days from next week.
The green panel also questioned the rationale of the AAP government in rolling out the scheme when reports by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) had found that the levels of PM10 and PM2.5 were cumulatively higher when the scheme was implemented twice earlier.
The Delhi government had on Thursday announced that the scheme, which allows private cars with odd and even registration numbers to ply only on alternate days, will come into effect from November 13 to 17 in an attempt to tackle the lethal cocktail of pollutants that has enveloped the capital for the last few days.
On April 21 last year, the CPCB had told NGT that there was no data to suggest that the odd-even scheme has led to a decline in vehicular pollution in Delhi-NCR.
Directing the city government not to implement the scheme unless it established that it was not counter-productive, the NGT asked it to give an undertaking that it will roll out odd-even only when particulate matter (PM) 2.5 was over 300.
The prevailing level of PM2.5 in the capital was hovering around 433 microgrammes per cubic metre, while PM10 stood at around 617, as per latest CPCB data.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also directed the city government to submit the comparative ratio of the emission caused by diesel and petrol vehicles and asked it to clearly enumerate the contribution of small petrol cars in pollution.
It also questioned the justification of exempting two-wheelers and women drivers during the odd-even scheme despite knowing that two-wheelers caused 46 per cent pollution, as per an IIT Kanpur report.
Following a plea by the AAP government, the green panel, however, allowed the industries engaged in essential services to operate in the Delhi-NCR on the condition that they would not pollute and cause emissions. The hearing remained inconclusive and will continue on Saturday.
During the hearing, the Delhi government counsel told the bench that they were introducing the odd-even scheme in pursuance to the directions of the apex court-appointed EPCA. But the tribunal rapped the city government over this submission and said the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) had issued several suggestions and the odd-even scheme was just one of them.
"The Supreme Court had never said that you implement the odd-even scheme. It was only one of the directions given by EPCA. You have not followed 99 directions and introduced the odd-even scheme and treating it as a picnic," the bench said.
The city has been experiencing 'severe' air quality and has been reeling under a blanket of thick haze, as pollution levels breached permissible standards by multiple times.
With deadly smog blanketing Delhi and the neighbouring states, the NGT had on Thursday banned construction and industrial activities and entry of trucks. The CPCB has recorded 'severe' air quality, meaning that the intensity of pollution was extreme.
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