Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai on Monday said the government had filed a review petition before the National Green Tribunal and pushed for exemption of women drivers and two-wheelers from the Odd-Even vehicle rationing policy. Rai’s statement came after the green court rapped the Arvind Kejriwal-led government for not refiling the plea and asked if it was just a media stunt.
The government had deferred its plan to implement the Odd-Even scheme from November 13-17 after the NGT on Saturday said there would be no exemption for women, two-wheelers and government servants. The minister said they had backed out of implementing the policy since women’s safety was a matter of concern.
In a veiled dig at the NGT, Rai said experts had predicted that the smog cover would disappear from Monday and the air quality would improve. But the air quality on Monday remained at ‘hazardous’ levels, he said. “Experts were saying pollution will be over by Monday, but it did not happen. The pollution levels are fluctuating and we are continuously monitoring the situation,” Rai said a press conference.
The transport minister said a decision on implementing the Odd-Even scheme would be taken by the end of the day and also listed out steps being taken by the government to check pollution. “The Delhi CM and the cabinet are in touch with environment scientists. Movement of trucks and construction works are under scrutiny. Water is being sprinkled and vacuum cleaning is on,” he said.
There were reports that the government had approached state-run aviation firm Pawan Hans to carry out aerial sprinkling in the city. When questioned in this regard, Rai said the plan was very much on the cards and a decision would be taken soon.
Rai also lashed out at the neighbouring state governments of Punjab and Haryana for shirking responsibility on checking stubble burning. He also singled out Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who, in a letter to Kejriwal, questioned the steps Delhi had taken to curb crop burning. “Farm sizes in Delhi are small, so there is less crop residue. BJP is running away from responsibility and is silent on the matter. The matter does not concern only Delhi, but the whole of north India. People are losing lives,” he said.