Delhi's air quality has been at its worse in the past few weeks, putting increasing pressure on the Delhi government to take some immediate steps to improve air quality. The government had earlier suggested implementing the odd-even scheme but the National Green Tribunal refused to allow any exemptions that were given earlier. These exemptions included women drivers, two-wheelers, cars with school kids and many more. After the Court's order, the Arvind Kejriwal led AAP government agreed to implement the odd-even scheme without exemptions but things have now taken an interesting turn. Within 24 hours of its assurance to launch the next round of odd-even scheme without exemptions, the Delhi government on Thursday withdrew from its commitment and filed a review petition at the National Green Tribunal (NGT), seeking exemptions again.
On Wednesday, the Delhi government's counsel had assured the Tribunal that it would bring the odd-even scheme as directed by the green court, which includes no exemptions for women drivers and two-wheelers. "The government wants to implement odd-even with exemptions... We have filed a review plea," the Delhi government counsel said here after the bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar asked its stand on the scheme.
Earlier in November, when the Delhi-NCR faced "severe-plus" or "emergency" air quality situation that calls for the implementation of the odd-even scheme under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), the NGT directed the Delhi government to implement the road rationing scheme without any exemptions for women drivers and two-wheelers. The matter will be heard today.
Observing that the air quality in Delhi and NCR was never "normal", the Tribunal had earlier also directed the Delhi government and neighbouring states to spell out their action plans and how they would implement the GRAP, given the severity of the air quality. The Delhi government's plan recommends implementation of odd-even plan, check on entry of trucks in the city, ban on construction work and asking parents not to allow their children to play outside when air quality turns "severe".
The ability of the odd-even scheme to bring down pollution has already been uncertain and if there were any benefits from the scheme, the government is wasting time in chase of making people happy. Environmental concerns in Delhi need immediate and focussed attention and putting the convenience of certain people in order to avoid making them annoyed is the last thing any responsible government should be doing.