New Delhi: In an unusual on-camera confrontation, senior BJP leader Vijay Goel exchanged heated words with Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot over crippling pollution in the city, hours after defying the odd-even car rationing scheme which kicked in on Monday.
Seated across Gahlot in front of reporters and camerapersons, Goel asked the AAP minister why the Arvind Kejriwal government introduced the odd-even scheme when the chief minister himself had blamed the plummeting air quality on stubble burning in neighbouring states.
“I am an MP from Delhi and take up Delhi's issue in Parliament. You never came to meet me or any of the six MPs… Secondly, why was no step taken in the last five years? And if the reason for pollution in stubble burning, then what is the point of odd-even?” Goel asked.
Gahlot responded that the Delhi government had sought help. “We have requested the (central) government to help us with the stubble burning. And if 50% cars do not ply on the roads, then at least some amount of pollution will reduce,” he said.
A couple of hours before the meeting, Goel had dubbed the odd-even scheme a “political stunt” by the Kejriwal government and drove in a specially decked up saffron-coloured SUV with odd-numbered plates on what is an even-numbered date. Goel also paid the hiked fine of Rs 4,000. The BJP leader had also violated the earlier edition of the odd-even scheme in 2016 and paid Rs 2,000 fine.
"Odd-even can only curb pollution by 1-2 per cent, if at all. All claims of curbing pollution are baseless. Declaring fine is not an achievement. No one is following your diktat. Construction is taking place all over," Goel told reporters before meeting Gahlot.
Goel said it was the eastern-western peripheral expressway, inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi in 2016, which had helped reduce pollution in Delhi. "They (AAP government) were supposed to plant 1.5 lakh plants. They haven't planted any. For five years, you will not do anything and then wake up and declare odd-even?" Goel added.
The third instalment of the odd-even scheme will remain in force in the national capital till November 15 from 8 am to 8 pm. Violation of the scheme will attract a penalty of Rs 4,000, which is double the amount charged in the earlier editions of the scheme in keeping with the hike in traffic fines.