The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Friday told the Delhi government that it should not implement the odd-even car rationing scheme, unless they can “satisfy” that it is “not counter-productive”. The scheme, which has been implemented in the past by the AAP government, was set to begin from November 13 to 17 following a spike in air pollution levels.
The NGT said that previous analysis by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) had shown the scheme to be ineffective. The two pollution watchdogs had found that the levels of PM10 and PM2.5 were cumulatively higher when the scheme was implemented twice earlier, it pointed out.
”You will not implement odd-even unless you satisfy us that it is not counterproductive. We feel that your purpose and objective should be lauded, but the manner in which it is implemented is improper, unscientific and inefficient,” a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
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The green tribunal said that it will have a special sitting on Saturday to allow the Delhi government to convince it of the merits of the scheme and asked it to be ready with answers. The NGT also asked the state government to submit a statement that the odd-even scheme will be automatically implemented when PM2.5 levels exceed 300.
”Odd-Even formula cannot be imposed like this. You can’t have a shock treatment like this. By this scheme, you are only encouraging people to buy more vehicles and allowing more inter-state traffic. We will not allow odd-even vehicle rationalisation scheme until you prove that it’s not counterproductive,” the bench said.
The NGT also asked the Delhi government to point out data or studies on which the scheme has been planned. “If the recommendations of the Graded Response Action Plan were being following – which requires that upon the parameter reaching 500 for PM10 and 300 for PM 2.5 odd-even will be implemented – which were the days in the last three months when the pollution levels were found to be below the said limit and odd-even was not implemented,” the bench asked the Delhi government.
Further, the green tribunal directed the Delhi government to submit the comparative ratio of emissions caused by diesel and petrol vehicles and asked it to clearly enumerate the contribution of small petrol cars in pollution. “We also want a justification for allowing two-wheelers and women drivers during the odd-even scheme,” the bench said, adding this was despite knowing that two-wheelers caused 46 per cent pollution as per an IIT Kanpur report.
The NGT also questioned the state government over its decision to introduce 500 buses during the odd-even week and asked it to clearly state how many of these ran on diesel. “How many of these are diesel? What is the comparative ratio of emissions from diesel and petrol vehicles? One heavy diesel vehicle will emit how much compared to a small petrol vehicle?” it said.
The Delhi government counsel had told the bench during the hearing that the government introduced the odd-even scheme in pursuance to the directions of the SC-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA). But the NGT pointed out that the EPCA had made several suggestions and odd-even was just one of them.
”The Supreme Court has never said that you implement the odd-even scheme. It was only one of the directions given by EPCA. You have not followed 99 directions and introduced the odd-even scheme and treating it as a picnic,” the bench said.
The NGT also said that Delhi was “getting the tag of the worst capital in the world”. “The SC and NGT have suggested 100 measures to curb pollution, but you always opt for odd-even. Nothing has been done by the Delhi Government in the past one year,” the bench noted.
Meanwhile, following a plea by the AAP government, the NGT allowed industries engaged in essential services to operate in Delhi-NCR on the condition that they would not pollute and cause emissions.