Delhi Odd-Even: National Green Tribunal pulled up the Delhi government over plan.
New Delhi: The Green Court today delivered a blistering criticism of the Arvind Kejriwal government's Delhi Odd-Even rule and pointing to various other measures that could have been taken, said the government should not "test its patience". The court okayed the plan, which will be implemented from Monday, but banned most exemptions -- including to two-wheelers, government officials and women. "What is the basis of exemptions if you want to improve air quality," the court said as the choking smog blanket stubbornly enveloped Delhi for the sixth straight day. Questioning why the Odd-Even scheme was not implemented earlier, the court said it should come into effect every time Particulate Matter 10 exceeds the level of 500 and PM 2.5 rises above 300 for 48 hours.
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"You tell us what is the purpose of implementing Odd-Even again? It seems you just want to reduce vehicles from roads," the court said. Exemption from the Odd-Even scheme will be granted only to the CNG vehicles, emergency services such as ambulance and fire service.
Questioning the end result of banning cars when millions of two-wheelers are getting a free run, the court said, "If you are removing 500 cars from roads and allowing 1,000 two wheelers... what purpose it will serve? Is the Odd-Even scheme at the whims and thought of a particular officer or the Delhi government as a whole?"
The Central Pollution Control Board has told the Green Court that two-wheelers cause more pollution compared to four wheelers.
The NGT also slammed the four-fold hike in parking fees. "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?" it said.
The court questioned why construction work near the Yamuna river was not stopped. "Who has asked you not to fine NHAI (National Highways Authority of India)? You can fine NHAI, the Metro Rail Corporation for one lakh penalty if you find them continuing with construction work".
The Green Court also asked the Centre and the Delhi government to name a big city where the levels of Particulate Matter 10 were lower than 100. "So should we assume that the government is sure of the Odd-Even scheme's benefit, and of no inconvenience taking place to the citizens?" the court said.
The NGT asked Delhi government to show the letter on basis of which the decision to implement Odd-Even road rationing scheme was taken, and whether the approval of the Lieutenant Governor was taken for it.
Observing that diesel vehicles older than 10 years and petrol vehicles older than 15 years are playing though all main roads, the NGT asked the Traffic Police to deploy its personnel at traffic lights.
It asked the Delhi government when statistics indicated that rain leads to a fall in pollution levels, why wasn't action taken. Yesterday, the high court told the officials to explore all options including "cloud seeding" - spraying chemicals that enrich rain-bearing clouds - to induce rainfall artificially.
The Central Pollution Control Board has said they had warned the Delhi government orally in advance about the impending problem, which the government had denied.