NEW DELHI: The Odd-Even plan for the rationing of cars in Delhi to fight deadly smog is off the table for now. The National Green Tribunal today firmly rejected the Arvind Kejriwal government’s request to allow it to make an exception for women and two-wheelers, questioning: “Why should anyone be exempt from the Odd-Even plan?”
The government was forced to withdraw its appeal and said it would file a fresh one.
“Are you really serious about the environment,” was among the questions that bombarded the Kejriwal government in today’s hearing.
“If two-wheelers are causing pollution then there is no business of exemption,” the green court said as the government argued that its public transport is not equipped to handle the load of two-wheeler drivers when the Odd-Even plan is in place.
The court quoted the Central Pollution Control Board to point out that over a third of the pollution in Delhi is because of two-wheelers. “Then where is the question of exemption? There are 68 lakh two-wheelers in Delhi,” it said.
In the case of women, the government had argued that many didn’t feel safe in public transport, especially those who had to work in odd hours, so women should be kept out of the ban on cars every alternate day.
“Why shouldn’t there be reserved buses and metros for women,” the tribunal shot back.
“During our university days, there used to be women specials”.
The government was reminded that it had promised last year to get more buses on the road. “It’s still not done? We also got your land to park..,” said the tribunal. Why, it also wondered, did schools in Delhi reopen though the air quality was as poor as last week, when the smog was declared a public health emergency and schools were ordered to shut down.
On Saturday, the green tribunal’s objections forced the government to put on hold Odd-Even from Monday.
The government, as promised, did appeal to the court yesterday for a review but its petition came hours after the hearing began, prompting the tribunal’s chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar to comment: “There is no review petition from the Delhi government on Odd-Even though the Delhi Minister said so earlier. Was the statement only for media?”
The green court says the Odd-Even scheme should be enforced without the exemptions given during the previous two editions last year to women, two-wheelers, vehicles carrying children in school uniforms and VVIPs.