The National Green Tribunal on Saturday approved to implement odd-even vehicle rationing scheme from 13 to 17 November in New Delhi.
Under the vehicle scheme, private vehicles in Delhi are allowed to run based on the last number of their licence plates. Odd-numbered vehicles are allowed to run on odd dates, while even-numbered vehicles can only run on even dates.
The green court observed that whenever the air quality in Delhi becomes alarming, the odd-even vehicle scheme should be ‘automatically’ implemented, Rajiv Bansal, counsel representing DDA, told media. NGT also asked the Delhi government, why the scheme was not implemented earlier.
NGT said implement the scheme when particulate matter (PM) 10 crosses 500 level and PM 2.5 crosses 300 level in the air. The panel suggested that only, ambulances, fire brigade and vehicles carrying solid waste will be exempted from the scheme.
The safe limit for PM2.5 and PM10 as per international standards is 25 and 60 microgrammes per cubic meters, while as per national standards it is 40 and 100 units respectively.
The panel said that there will be no exemption for women, two-wheelers, and VIP vehicles.
The court also said water should be sprinkled around the city on regular intervals to counter the pollution.
The tribunal also observed that construction continued in many places despite their order banning it.
NGT also asked Traffic Police to deploy more personnel at traffic lights to check lying of diesel vehicles older than 10 years and petrol vehicles older than 15 years on all main roads.
The court slammed the Delhi government for the four-fold hike in parking fees, saying “Won’t the hike of parking fees only benefit the parking lots, and stress people even further, thereby encouraging them to park vehicles on the roads instead, choking them in the process?”
NGT slams Delhi govt
On Friday, the NGT had slammed AAP-led Delhi government for announcing odd-even vehicle rationing scheme, despite reports from Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) that implementation of the vehicle rationing scheme was ineffective and questioned the rationale behind it.
According to media reports, the NGT said that nothing has been done to counter the pollution in past year, and the government should have acted earlier.
Earlier, NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said that while the green bench was not against the odd-even scheme, it wanted to know how it helps the environment.
Kumar observed that even Delhi Metro failed to help during the last edition of odd-even as during peak hours “it was difficult to even breathe inside the metro”.
The bench asked the government to clarify how many out of the proposed 500 extra buses to boost public transport during the odd-even vehicle rationing scheme would be running on diesel.
Earlier on Friday, the Delhi government had announced free travel in all DTC and cluster buses to encourage the use of public transport during the odd-even vehicle scheme from 13-17 November.
NGT also pulled up Punjab and Haryana government for failing to tackle ‘stubble burning’.
Earlier, the Delhi govt had asks NGT to exempt industries catering to essential services from its ban order.
NGT in its response allowed industries engaged in essential services to operate in Delhi-NCR on condition that they would not pollute.
Odd-even rule after pollution reached ‘severe’ level
On Thursday, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot had announced the implementation of odd-even vehicle scheme for a five-day period from 13 to 17 November. The odd-even will be implemented from 8 am to 8 pm.
The decision came after Delhi as air quality reached ‘severe’ level. The air quality index (AQI) at 7.30 am was recorded at 468, which was worse than Tuesday’s average AQI of 448.
While addressing a media conference on Thursday, Gahlot said that, the state government will also ensure no surge pricing of Ola-Uber cabs, said Gehlot.
Gehlot said PM Narendra Modi should convene emergency meeting of CMs of Delhi, adjoining states to discuss pollution.
“IGL stickers for cars will be available from tomorrow at 22 CNG stations across Delhi. Also extra buses are being arranged. But we will not requisition for school buses,” said Gehlot.
The scheme was implemented twice in 2016 — from 1-15 January and 15-30 April.
(With agency inputs)