The Supreme Court Monday stayed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order making the odd-even scheme applicable to two-wheelers and vehicles driven by women plying on roads in the national capital.
A bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta put the order on hold after Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni pointed to the practical difficulties and safety concerns.
The ASG, appearing for the Delhi government, drew the court’s attention to the huge number of vehicles on the city’s roads and said around 25 lakh people would have to be accommodated in public transport if the scheme was extended to these vehicles. He added that it was “impossible to accommodate” so many people in public transport.
Nadkarni also sought exemption for four-wheelers driven by women citing safety reasons, saying that women could not be asked to use public transport.
The bench also issued a notice to the petitioner, who had moved the NGT in the matter, on the plea filed by the Delhi government.
As per the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) for Delhi- NCR, the odd-even scheme comes into effect automatically when particulate matter (PM) 10 and 2.5 rise to 500 µg/m3 and 300 µg/m3 for 48 hours.
In November 2017, the NGT had ordered that the scheme — under which odd and even numbered vehicles would ply only on alternate days — would apply to all classes of vehicles, and that “there shall be no exemption to any person, officer and individual and two-wheelers from the ambit and scope of the scheme”.
On December 15 last year, it had dismissed the government’s review plea seeking exemption for two-wheelers, saying that such a relaxation would defeat the purpose of improving Delhi’s ambient air quality.
The Delhi government has steadfastly maintained that implementing the road rationing scheme will not be possible if two-wheelers and women are not exempted from the rule.
There have been two rounds of the odd-even restriction so far — the first was for the first 15 days in January 2016, and the second was between April 15 and 30 the same year.
The government had planned to bring the restriction back in November last year, after pollution levels had shot up post Diwali.
The NGT had asked it to include two-wheelers and women in the list of restrictions, but the plan was shelved after air quality improved.