Millennium Post

Despite NGT nod, Delhi government postpones odd-even over exemptions

New Delhi: Hours after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) gave conditional nod to the odd-even scheme, the Delhi government postponed the move, refusing to implement the scheme from Monday without exemptions to women and two-wheelers.

The Delhi government said it will approach the green court again on Monday, and request that exemptions be given for women drivers and two-wheelers. Subject to the NGT's decision, the Delhi government will "consider implementing it again".

The road rationing scheme was to be implemented from November 13 to 17 as suggested by the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) and specified under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), after Delhi's air quality went "beyond severe".

The green court on Saturday gave the go ahead to the odd-even scheme and also asked the city government to reconsider the four-times hike in the parking fee. The Tribunal disapproved all the exemptions that were given by the city government during the previous two phases of odd-even in January and April 2016.

Last year, exemptions were given to women, two-wheelers, vehicles carrying children in school uniforms and VVIPs.

"The odd-even will go on. No exemption of any kind to any one, including two-wheelers, women, public officers or politicians, except essential services," NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar ordered on Saturday, adding that only CNG vehicles, emergency services such as ambulance and fire, and vehicles carrying waste shall be exempted.

However, three hours after the NGT's order, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held a meeting and refused to impose the third phase of odd-even scheme without exemptions, pointing out the concerns of "women security" and "insufficient public transport".

"At the moment we are calling it off. We will again approach the NGT and will ask them to allow exemptions to women and two-wheelers," Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said here.

"This government gives highest priority to the safety and security of women."

"Further, this government feels that considering the large number of two-wheelers in Delhi, unless adequate number of buses are available, implementation of odd-even will cause great hardship to such persons. This is not feasible to arrange such a large number of buses at this stage," a Delhi government statement said.

Earlier in the day, the tribunal said that in future the odd-even scheme should automatically come into force if the PM2.5 and PM10, particles in air with diameter less than 2.5 and 10mm respectively, goes above the 300 and 500 mark respectively for 48 hours.

The tribunal directed to implement the odd-even "right away" without waiting for 48 hours, in case PM2.5 and PM10 go beyond 400 and 700 units respectively.

The NGT's decision came after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) told the bench that two-wheelers were more polluting than other vehicles, and emissions from two-wheelers accounted for over 20 per cent of the total vehicular pollution.

While passing several directives, the NGT said every entry point to Delhi should be properly managed by the city

government, the corporations should ensure that there was no congestion, and Uttar Pradesh and Haryana should depute special forces at the border of the national capital to avoid traffic jams.

The tribunal also issued notices to the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and the National Buildings

Construction Corporation (NBCC) to show cause why construction was still going on.

"Why shall your officials not be imprisoned for violation of its order putting a ban on construction activities," Justice Kumar said.

The tribunal constituted a three member team of officials from the CPCB and DPCC, and the special secretary of the environment department of the Delhi government, which would collect data of ambient air quality and analyse all different parameters including PM (particulate matter PM10 and PM2.5) levels, ozone, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and others.

While the Delhi government counsel also asked the tribunal if they shall "drop the idea of odd-even" as Delhi's air quality was improving, the tribunal asked the government to take a call, saying: "We are not going to give you a shelter on this one. Take a decision yourself."

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