The National Green Tribunal today gave a green signal to the implementation of the Delhi government's odd-even car rationing scheme for five days from November 13 in a bid to control the extreme air pollution crisis Delhi has been facing in the last week. The NGT began hearing the matter at 11 am.
No exemption will be granted to women, two-wheelers or VVIPs, announced a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar. CNG vehicles and emergency services such as ambulance and fire alone would be exempted from following the scheme.
It also said that that scheme would be compulsorily rolled out whenever PM10 and PM2.5 levels breach the danger mark - 300 for PM 10 and 500 PM 2.5.
PM10 and PM2.5 are particulate matter in the air that can lodge deep in the lungs and cause severe respiratory ailments. The safe limit for PM2.5 and PM10 as per international standards is 25 and 60 microgrammes per cubic meters, while according to national standards it is 40 and 100 units respectively.
The NGT also asked the Delhi government to reconsider the decision on hiking parking fees. NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said: "Why should the common man suffer. Why should burden come on the common man? We are unable to appreciate this parking fee hike decision."
The NGT also rapped the Delhi government for failing to think of measures like this before the situation got worse. It also asked if the scheme is being implemented with the consent of both the Delhi government and the Delhi Lieutenant Governor.
The car-rationing scheme, which was enforced twice in the national capital in 2016, will be in place between November 13 and 17 from 8 am to 8 pm.
Under the policy, private vehicles are allowed to run based on the last number of their licence plates.
Odd-numbered cars are allowed to run on odd dates while even-numbered cars can only run on even dates.
The NGT had also rapped the governments of Delhi and neighbouring states, saying "you've earned Delhi the title of the worst capital in the world" and ordered them to ensure an end to stubble burning.
The bench also issued notices to the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) to show cause why exemplary cost should not be imposed on them for violation of its order putting a ban on construction activities.
The AAP government had yesterday announced the bringing back of the odd-even scheme as part of a Graded Response Plan to tackle the severe air pollution and smog which has been hanging low over the national capital and adjoining cities and states.
Yesterday, pulling up the Delhi Government over introduction of the odd-even car scheme for five days from next week, the National Green Tribunal on Friday directed the government to prove the efficacy of the other measures too taken by it to control the increasing pollution in the capital first before going ahead with the scheme.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson judge Swatanter Kumar questioned the rationale of the government in introducing the scheme when reports by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) had found that the levels of PM10 and PM2.5 were cumulatively higher when the scheme was implemented twice earlier.
On April 21, last year, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had told NGT that there was no data to suggest that the odd-even scheme has led to a decline in vehicular pollution in Delhi-NCR.
The pollution monitoring body had said that there was no data to indicate that car rationing scheme has any impact on decrease in vehicular pollution and the fluctuations in PM10 and PM2.5 is due to weather and change in wind patterns.
The national capital is experiencing 'severe' air quality under a blanket of thick haze, as pollution levels have breached permissible standards by multiple times.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has recorded 'severe' air quality, meaning that the intensity of pollution was extreme.
(With ANI, PTI, IANS inputs)