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NGT slams 'hasty' decision to implement odd-even policy in Delhi, AAP govt announces free bus travel during scheme

Questioning the Delhi government's odd-even car rationing scheme between 13-17 November proposed to combat the rising pollution levels in the national capital, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has said that it will not allow its implementation until the state government proves its efficacy and that it is not counter-productive.

In order to crack the whip on alarming levels of pollution in the city, the Delhi government on Thursday announced that the odd-even car rationing system would be re-introduced. However, the tribunal has asked the state government to prove whether the scheme helped in reducing the pollution levels in the city when it was implemented in 2016.

Terming the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government's decision as hasty, the tribunal said that the odd-even policy cannot be arbitrarily imposed in the state. The tribunal said that in spite of several measures suggested by the apex court and the tribunal, the Delhi government failed to implement any of the suggestions.

The green body said, "The Supreme Court has not passed any order asking the state government to implement the odd-even scheme. It has asked you to implement the measures to combat pollution. Both the apex court and we suggested a hundred measures to you, but you haven't implemented ninety-nine of them. This one measure you want to implement."

Meanwhile, the Delhi government announced free travel for commuters in all Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses during the odd-even scheme to encourage the use of public transport on Friday. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also said the move will encourage people to switch to public transport.

However, according to CNN-News 18 report, NGT said, “Small cars are not a serious contributor to pollution. Heavy diesel vehicles are a problem. Has odd-even been productive in reducing pollution level? Tell us if the 500 new buses you are putting on the roads are diesel vehicles or CNG. Do we have any data on what was the traveling pattern in the last odd even? Were people taking DTC buses?  You (Delhi government) don't have enough CNG buses. Extra Diesel buses plying on the roads will be counterproductive..."

The DTC has a bus fleet of around 4,000 buses while there are over 1,600 cluster buses that form the backbone of the public transport along with Metro. According to official data, DTC buses carry around 35 lakh passengers every day. However, since the AAP came to power, the DTC has not been able to purchase any new bus.

The odd-even scheme will be in place from 8 am to 8 pm and there will exemptions for women drivers and two-wheelers.

Opposing the scheme, NGT asked the Delhi government the contribution of car pollution to the total pollution in the National Capital.  The tribunal added that the state government's objective and impact is clear, however, the way it has been implemented is ad-hoc.

Another component to the rising pollution levels and smog in the northern states like Punjab is the issue of stubble burning.  The tribunal warned the state government of stricter punishment if it failed to provide details on what has the government done to tackle the persistent issue of crop burning.

It added that farmers who indulge in the practice of stubble burning should be dealt with an incentive approach and penalising them is not the only solution.  The tribunal also told the Punjab government to inform the panel on what was being done on crop burning or "be prepared to face strict punishment."

The tribunal said that "If we expose our children to this kind of air, we are committing the biggest sin."

The tribunal will hear the Delhi government's reports on what policies have been implemented to counter Delhi pollution and will deliver its verdict on the odd-even scheme on Saturday.

With inputs from agencies

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Published Date: Nov 10, 2017 17:08 PM | Updated Date: Nov 10, 2017 17:09 PM

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