Never Directed Delhi Govt to Implement Odd-even Scheme, Says EPCA
EPCA said it had felt no need to direct the government to implement odd-even due to changing weather conditions and “the enforcement challenge of the already directed measures”.
New Delhi: The tussle over the odd-even rule continued on Friday as the Environment Pollution (Protection and Control) Authority wrote to Delhi transport minister Kailash Gehlot, saying it had not directed the implementation of the car-rationing scheme and there should be no “finger pointing” at a time of “high public health emergency”.
This came after Gahlot urged EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal to implement odd-even in neighbouring states as well to bring down pollution levels in NCR. Gahlot, in his letter on Wednesday, had said that an impression was being created that the measure was only for Delhi but the reality was that it was mandated by the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
Lal, in his reply, detailed the sequence of events that led to the announcement of odd-even. He said that it was decided in a November 8 meeting with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal that a decision on the scheme would be taken on the evening of November 9 as the Central Pollution Control Board task force felt the weather might improve by November 11-12.
However, before EPCA could assess the situation, the government declared that odd-even’s third phase would begin on November 13 for five days. Lal said EPCA had felt no need to direct the government to implement odd-even due to changing weather conditions and “the enforcement challenge of the already directed measures”.
He also pointed out that under GRAP, odd-even allows no exemptions, and has to remain in place till the emergency is called off. Delhi’s lack of public transport will also make “such an important pollution control intervention meaningless,” he wrote.
The EPCA letter made clear that the neighbouring states were doing “more than their share in some cases”, and have shut down brick kilns, stone crushers and hot mix plants. Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have diverted trucks not destined for Delhi and allowed their turn-around.
EPCA also said there had been too little action in improving public transport and last mile connectivity, which weakened the implementation of GRAP.
The Delhi government has claimed the lack of land to park buses prevented it from procuring more vehicles. On this, EPCA said it had worked with the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to identify and transfer land to the government.
“In our May 2016 report to your government,” wrote EPCA, “we had explained that there was land available for the parking of 2000 buses within the available infrastructure. However, we find that as yet, no additional buses have been procured.”
The Delhi government had faced flak from the NGT on its decision to implement odd-even without proper evidence that it worked and then for its exemptions. In response, the government dug its heels in and called off the entire scheme.
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