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Above: Former Transport Minister Gopal Rai during the second phase of the odd-even scheme rolled in April (file picture). Photo: Anil Shakya

Hours after the National Green Tribunal gave a go-ahead to the Delhi government’s odd-even policy, the AAP has now called off the scheme. Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gehlot announced calling off the scheme, which was to come in to effect from Monday (November 13). The decision comes after an urgent meeting of the Delhi government on the implementation of the scheme.

It is being said that the scheme has been called off because of the Tribunal’s decision not to extend the scheme to two-wheelers and women as well. Pollution levels going down are important but women safety is paramount, said Gehlot.

The Delhi government has also expressed its inability to handle the transport crisis that would follow if two-wheelers are not exempted from the scheme. “If 30 lakh two-wheelers are off the road, Delhi’s public transport system cannot accommodate the surge,” said Gehlot.

Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain informed that the Delhi government will approach NGT on Monday requesting a review of its ruling.  “The Delhi government will file a review petition stating that it would be difficult to implement odd-even with these conditions,” said Hussain.

Unlike the last time, in this phase no exemptions were granted to women, two-wheelers and VVIPs. Only CNG vehicles, vehicles carrying solid waste and emergency services such as ambulance and fire trucks would be exempted.

The reason why two-wheelers were not granted exemption this time was that the Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee had submitted before the green court that two-wheelers create a lot more pollution than four-wheelers comprising 20 percent of the total vehicular pollution.

However, NGT had also expressed its displeasure over the increase in parking fees recommended by the Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, calling it “absurd”.

There was already a lot of confusion looming over the implementation of the scheme. Even though the NGT had given a go-ahead to the odd-even scheme, it had also criticised the Delhi government on several points. The NGT had asked the Delhi government that why it didn’t implement the scheme earlier.

“Why did you not impose the odd-even policy earlier when the pollution crossed all limits? What were you waiting for?” asked NGT. It may be recalled that the tribunal on Friday had called the scheme a “farce”.

The Tribunal had also questioned the government’s intent behind implementing the scheme. “How determined are you on odd-even? Will you implement odd-even to control pollution indefinitely or is it only for four days? Tell us your intent…” the Tribunal had asked.

The Delhi High Court, on November 9, had issued a set of directions calling the alarming air pollution levels an “emergency situation”. It had recommended measures such as watering of the roads and “cloud seeding” to bring down dust and particulate matter in the air. The concentration of PM10, reportedly, has crossed even the 500 mark, whereas PM2.5 has breached the 300 mark in the past 48 hours.

            —India Legal Bureau     

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