It was nothing less than a rap on the knuckles of the Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi government after the National Green Tribunal on Monday refused to exempt women and two-wheelers from the AAP government’s odd-even car rationing scheme. Kejriwal government also received a major setback after the green court directed it to ensure that over 10-year-old diesel vehicles be taken off the roads without delay. Expressing concern over the high pollution level which was an environmental and health emergency, the tribunal said the city should not gift infected lungs to its children.
It was like a rain of raps on the Delhi government as the bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also asked the Aam Aadmi Party government to identify the most polluted areas today itself and sprinkle water from high rise buildings.
What happened in the hearing?
During the hearing, the NGT also asked what the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are doing other than blaming each other. “What is UP, Haryana and Punjab doing? All of you are just blaming each other. You cannot just shift blame,” NGT said.
‘Bikers cause 30% pollution’
The tribunal noted that as per reports of the pollution control committees, two-wheelers caused greater pollution, and according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), approximately 30 per cent pollution was caused by them. “If you permit 68 lakh two-wheelers to ply, what will be the extent of the pollution? You said thousands of buses were ordered but have not got a single bus yet. You wait for a crisis,” the NGT bench said.
Why exempt women?
Expressing anguish over the plea seeking permission to exempt women drivers from the odd-even scheme, the NGT asked “are you (Delhi government) not responsible for safety of ladies who do not have cars and travel by metros and buses on a daily basis? Why can’t you have a special ladies buses?”
Noting that particulate matter (PM) 10 was higher than 900, it said, “You (Delhi government) are sprinkling water in trees. What you are supposed to do is to climb a multi-storeyed building and sprinkle water using fire equipment.”
The NGT had said the odd-even scheme should be implemented without any default as and when PM10 level goes above 500 microgrammes per cubic metre and PM 2.5 level crosses the limit of 300 microgrammes per cubic metre during a span of 48 hours.
Kejriwal government got cold feet?
The Delhi government withdrew its plea as the NGT was not convinced with its submission that the city did not have adequate public transport to cater to over 25 lakh commuters.
“Delhi government wishes to withdraw its application filed for modification of our order. They have the liberty to file a fresh plea. The application is disposed of,” the NGT bench said.
The Delhi government on Monday filed an application before the bench seeking modification of its November 11 order allowing odd-even scheme without exemptions.
The NGT had on November 11 given a conditional nod to the AAP government’s decision to implement the odd-even scheme for five days from November 13, ordering that no exemption should be allowed to any person or officer and two-wheelers. The government had then scrapped its plan to implement the odd-even vehicle rationing scheme, after NGT said there will be no exemption for women, two-wheelers and government servants.