The Delhi government on Saturday deferred the implementation of its car rationing scheme, which was scheduled to kick off from November 13. The announcement came after a review meeting of the ongoing situation, following new directions from the National Green Tribunal, ordering the government to lift exemptions granted to women drivers and two-wheelers under the proposed Odd-Even plan.
The Delhi government is now going to move another application with the green body on Monday to review its order and exempt women drivers and two-wheelers from the Odd-Even scheme. The Delhi government in the past two phases of the rationing had kept them out of the scheme.
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The current phase of the policy was scheduled to be implemented for a period of five days. The government in a statement said, “The NGT has issued directions to withdraw many of the exemption including the exemption to two-wheelers and women drivers. This Government gives the highest priority to the safety and security of women and therefore, it feels that the exemption to this category should continue.”
Meanwhile, on giving exemption to two-wheelers, the government said, “considering the large number of two-wheelers in Delhi, unless an 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.”
Earlier, the NGT had given a go-ahead to implementation of the policy with no exemption for two-wheelers. It ordered the government to implement odd-even scheme when PM10 level is above 500 micrograms per cubic metre and PM2.5 above 300 micrograms per cubic metre. NGT enquired about the pollution levels caused by two-wheelers and diesel vehicles and asked the government whether the exemption was carved out scientifically. “What is the basis of granting exemptions under the scheme if you want to improve ambient air quality? NGT asked the AAP government.
The green tribunal also said, “it is most worrying that there is absolute non-cooperation between various departments of government.” It asked: “Won’t the hike of parking fees only benefit the parking lots, and would stress people even further, thereby encouraging them to park vehicles on the roads instead, choking them in the process?”
Coming down heavily on the Arvind Kejriwal led government, the NGT bench also held that measures like enhanced parking fee, as suggested by EPCA, to decrease pollution are absurd. NGT issued direction for reconsidering the decision to hike parking charges by four times in Delhi.
With the pollution soaring up in Delhi, the Traffic Police has also implemented a Graded Response Action Plan with appropriate measures, prohibiting the entry of heavy and medium goods vehicle in the NCT after 11 PM between November 9 to November 12, which is likely to be further extended. It has also requested neighbouring districts and states to deploy adequate manpower at all border entry points to restrict the entry of such vehicles.
Earlier, on Thursday, the Delhi government had announced that they will reinstate the odd-even scheme from November 13-17 in a bid to check the rising pollution levels in the city, which reached alarming levels in the past one week.
Meanwhile, as the situation worsens in and around the national capital, the United Airlines on Saturday temporarily suspended its flight originating from Newark to New Delhi for a few days. The airline has asked its customer who will travel from November 9 to 13 to book the ticket on or before November 18.