New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on Saturday gave a conditional nod to the AAP government's decision to implement the odd-even car rationing scheme for five days from November 13, ordering that no exemption should be allowed to "any person or officer and two-wheelers".
The NGT said that the odd-even scheme should be implemented "without any default" as and when PM (particulate matter) 10 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.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar ordered that there should be no exemption to "any person or officer and two-wheelers" from the ambit and scope of the road rationing scheme and would be applied with equal vigour to all vehicles.
Earlier, the government announced exemptions for women drivers, two-wheelers and vehicles carrying children in school uniforms, besides VVIPs.
Saturday’s decision came after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) told the bench that two-wheelers were more polluting than other vehicles, and emissions from motorbikes accounted for 20 per cent of the total vehicular pollution.
However, the tribunal exempted CNG vehicles, emergency services such as ambulance and fire, and vehicles carrying waste.
"The Delhi government would be free to declare the odd- even scheme strictly subject to conditions. In terms of the environment ministry's notification order and Graded Response Action Plan as and when PM 10 and 2.5 cross levels of 500 and 300 microgrammes per cubic metre respectively, it shall be mandatory for the Delhi government to implement the scheme without any default," the bench said.
Taking strong exception to the decision to increase parking fees in Delhi by four times, the NGT ordered the Delhi government and the authorities concerned to reconsider the decision.
The tribunal said, "The hike in parking fees will only benefit the contractors and would stress people by encouraging them to park vehicles on the roads instead, choking them in the process."
"The extra money collected would not come to the government for sure. You are only enriching the contractors through the order," it said.
While passing a slew of directives, the NGT said every entry point to Delhi should be properly managed by the city government, the corporations should ensure that there was no congestion, and neighbouring states such as Uttar Pradesh and Haryana should depute special forces at the border of the national capital to avoid traffic jams.
"All the private transporters who have been granted permit by the Delhi government shall provide vehicles to carry essentials in coordination with the Delhi Transport
Corporation as part of their corporate social responsibility.
"Since it is commonly agreed that sprinkling of water is a substantial solution for decreasing the pollutant level in the air, the same shall be done without default in future and in the coming week unless it rains," the bench said.
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 and the erring officials be imprisoned for violation of its order putting a ban on construction activities.
It constituted a team of officials from the CPCB and DPCC, and the special secretary of environment department of the Delhi government, which would collect data of ambient air quality and analyse all different parameters including PM levels, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide etc.
"All the samples are to be analysed in the CPCB laboratory and at the IIT Delhi," it said.
The tribunal took note of thermal power plants operating around Delhi and said there were 30 plants producing 11,000 megawatt of power which are one of the biggest factors for contribution to the pollution as they contribute 80 per cent sulphate and 50 per cent nitrate which add to the air pollution.
"If emissions from these plants are controlled or are upgraded with technology it could largely impact the pollution condition in Delhi," the NGT said.
During the two-hour hearing, the Delhi government came under a scathing attack from the tribunal which asked the AAP dispensation why it did not introduce odd-even car rationing scheme earlier this month when the air quality was worse.
The NGT bench also came down heavily on the city government's decision to exempt some categories of people from the odd-even scheme and enhance parking fees to control pollution, terming it as "absurd".
"Why didn't you introduce odd-even earlier when air quality was worse? Measures such as enhanced parking fees to decrease pollution are absurd," the bench asked.
The tribunal also questioned the government if the decision to introduce the odd-even scheme was taken with the consent of the Lieutenant Governor.
"Is odd-even scheme at the whim and thought of a particular officer or the Delhi govt as a whole. Is it being implemented with the consent of both the Lieutenant Governor and Delhi government," it asked.
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....