No contradiction in odd-even orders of EPCA and NGT, says SC-appointed pollution panel
There is no contradiction in the orders of the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) and National Green Tribunal on the implementation of the odd-even road rationing rule, the pollution panel has said.
In a meeting on the graded response action plan (GRAP) last week, EPCA member Sunita Narain told representatives of all NCR states — Delhi, Haryana Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan — that there was no contradiction in the two orders.
“We have directions from Supreme Court. You have no choice but to implement it. You implement NGT directions as well, no one will stop you. Nothing is in contradiction. Bring odd-even tomorrow, get it implemented,” Narain said.
The National Green Tribunal in December 2017 divided air pollution into four categories — category I (average), II (severe), III (critical) and IV (environmental emergency).
It sought the implementation of the odd-even in the third category, but the Graded Response Action Plan, notified and implemented by the EPCA, calls for the move at the emergency or highest stringency levels.
In the GRAP stock-taking meeting last Wednesday, government officials asked the pollution panel to clarify its stance regarding the road-rationing scheme and whose orders (the EPCA or the NGT) should the agencies follow.
“I have understood the (NGT) order and compared both. It is only that the NGT, in certain cases, has said even if the pollution is lower in certain cases, you should take certain actions. You do it. We will be very happy,” the EPCA member said.
Terming as “critical” the levels of pollution in the third category, the NGT had, in its December order, said that immediate steps, including a ban on construction and introduction of the odd-even scheme, should be implemented by the authorities.
The odd-even scheme, a system designed to reduce pollution, allows vehicles to ply on odd and even dates based on the last number of their licence plates. It was first implemented in Delhi in January 2016 and the second in April the same year.
The scheme to fight the Capital’s toxic air was largely inspired by the Beijing model, which was introduced ahead of the Summer Olympics in 2008.
Before passing its order on the graded response action plan, the NGT in December dismissed the Delhi government’s plea for exemptions, should the odd-even road rationing measure needs to be rolled out.
In November, the government itself shelved its plan to enforce odd-even after the NGT refused to exempt woman drivers, two-wheelers and government officials from its ambit. The tribunal said the system cannot be implemented with exemptions.