NGT gives Delhi government go-ahead for odd-even scheme

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The National Green Tribunal on Saturday gave the Delhi government the go-ahead to implement the odd-even scheme for the next five days in the city. However, the NGT said that the Delhi government cannot grant exemption to two-wheeler vehicles, government servants, and women drivers.

The NGT also directed all the neighbouring state governments and departments to ensure complete mechanism during the environmental emergency. “Don’t wait for a crisis situation and work well together,” it said, asking the Delhi police to also be in constant touch with authorities.

Since Wednesday, the national capital has been reeling in smog, thanks to several factors including stubble burning in neighbouring states, and heavy condensation.

Earlier on Saturday, the NGT asked the Delhi government the rationale behind implementing the odd-even scheme in the city.

“Why wasn’t this implemented when the air quality index had become bad?” the NGT questioned further asking both the Centre and the Delhi government to name one city in the world where the PM 10 levels were lower than 100.

The NGT then directed the Delhi government to show the letter on basis of which this decision (to implement the odd-even scheme) was taken, and whether the LG’s approval was taken for the same.

During the hearing, the Central Pollution Control Board claimed that they had ‘orally’ warned the Delhi government about the problem – a claim that the Delhi government denied.

“Do not test our patience. When statistics indicate that rains lead to a fall in pollution levels, why did you take time to spray water? You’re only takeing the decision after the tribunal directed you to,” the NGT said to the Delhi government.

The bench, headed by Justice Swatantra Kumar, had on Friday rapped Delhi government and asked it to not implement odd-even scheme unless they satisfy the court that it is not counter-productive.

On Saturday, however, the bench asked the government whether it was sure of the odd-even scheme benefit. “Citizens should not be affected by it and no inconvenience should be caused,” the bench observed.

The bench also asked the Delhi government on the reasons behind the exemptions on two-wheeler vehicles and the impact of those vehicles. The bench even asked the government whether it intends to employ the odd-even scheme whenever the pollution levels spiral, to which the Delhi Govt stated that this couldn’t be said as of now.

Meanwhile, the Central Pollution Control Board submitted before the NGT that rain could take place in the next two days.

A layer of smog continued to engulf Delhi on Friday with some of the areas still gripped in the hazardous category of air quality index.

The pollution level in Punjabi Bagh at 802, Mandir Marg at 515, Anand Vihar at 571 and Dwarka at 420 fall under the hazardous category.

The AAP government on Thursday announced the introduction of the odd-even scheme as part of a Graded Response Plan to tackle the alarming pollution situation in the national capital.

With nearly 13 lakh private cars expected to keep off the road per day after the odd-even scheme kicks in from Monday, the government is looking to hire 500 buses to ensure smooth commute for the public.

The odd-even scheme will be rolled out in Delhi for five days from November 13 to November 17. The scheme will be in place from 8 am to 8 pm and there will exemptions for women drivers and two-wheelers.

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