SC revives Delhi government’s exemption for women drivers, two-wheelers
The Supreme Court on Monday revived a Delhi government notification, issued last year, exempting two-wheelers and women drivers from the odd-even vehicle rationing scheme.
A bench of justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta put on hold a National Green Tribunal direction of 2017 that made odd-even scheme applicable to all vehicles.
As per the graded response action plan (GRAP) for Delhi, approved by the spex court and notified by the Centre, the odd-even scheme comes into effect whenever the particulate matter PM10 and PM 2.5 rises to 500 microgram per cubic metre and 300 microgram per cubic metre, respectively, for 48 hours.
The bench’s stay order came after additional solicitor general AS Nadkarni, appearing for the Delhi government, submitted that it was “impossible to accommodate” two lakh wheeler users in public transport during the road rationing scheme.
Latest reports of the state transport department say of more than 10 million registered vehicles in Delhi, over 70 lakh are two-wheelers.
Women, Nadkarni said, needed to be exempted due to security reasons.
The NGT had on November 11, 2017, had ordered: “There shall be no exemption to any person, officer and individual and the two wheelers from the ambit and scope of odd and even scheme. They will be applied with
equal rigour to all cases and all vehicles.”
Nadkarni referred to the number of two-wheelers in Delhi and said if the odd-even scheme was made applicable for these vehicles as well, around 25 lakh extra persons would be forced to use public transport.
According to government data, Delhi has only 5,561 public buses against a mandated need of 11,000 buses to cater to the population of nearly two crore. The fleet is so inadequate that during the first odd-even drive, held from January 1 to 15, 2016, the government had to extend the winter break of schools as it used their buses for public transport.
After the Metro fare hike last year, the need for buses assumed more importance as the daily average ridership of the Delhi Metro has declined from 26 lakh to about 24 lakh a day. The ridership continues to be lower than that of the city buses even though the 296km Metro network is the longest in the country.
The second round of the odd-even road rationing drive was enforced in the peak traffic season, from April 15 to 30 last year. But, that too fell short of expectations with the Delhi government’s own report stating that there were an additional 4 lakh cars and 1.3 lakh two-wheelers on the road in the second round as compared to the maiden edition