What forced Arvind Kejriwal government to call off odd-even in Delhi

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In what can be called a u-turn, the Arvind Kejriwal government called off the odd-even scheme Delhi on Saturday.

The car-rationing scheme, which was supposed to be rolled out from Monday, had also got a conditional nod from the National Green Tribunal.

The core reason was top green court rejecting several exemptions during the odd-even phase proposed by the Delhi government.

In what seems as more odd than even twist, the government will now petition before the NGT on Monday against its order.

The fast-paced back to back developments were triggered by an order of the NGT earlier in the day, which said that no exemption should be allowed to “any person or officer and two-wheelers” during the proposed car rationing scheme for five days from November 13.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar on Saturday said that the odd-even scheme should be implemented “without any default” as and when PM (particulate matter) 10 level goes above 500 microgrammes per cubic metre and PM 2.5 level crosses the limit of 300 microgrammes per cubic metre during a span of 48 hours.

The NGT at the same time ordered that no exemption should be allowed to “any person or officer and two-wheelers”.

In contrast from the Delhi government’s announcement women drivers, two-wheelers and vehicles carrying children in school uniforms, besides VVIPs, the NGT said the road rationing scheme would be applied with equal vigour to all vehicles. It allowed the exemptions only for emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire tenders.

Earlier the Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee appearing before the NGT bench told it that two-wheelers were more polluting than other vehicles, and emissions from motorbikes accounted for 20 per cent of the total vehicular pollution.

The bench also castigated the government over its decision to hike parking fees saying, “measures such as enhanced parking fees to decrease pollution are absurd.”

Ruing the NGT ordering withdrawal of exemptions under the scheme, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said the government is not ready “to compromise with the safety of women”.

“We respect the NGT decision. Two conditions of NGT that two-wheelers and women cannot be exempted make it difficult to implement odd-even as we do not have adequate buses.”

“Also we cannot compromise with the safety of women. We cannot take risks. PM2.5 and PM10 levels have also come down. So at the moment we are calling it off,” the minister said after an emergency meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

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