Odd-even not a solution, says SC, summons top officers of 4 states
As toxic smog continued to shroud Delhi, the Supreme Court on Friday said that the vehicle rationing odd-even scheme may not be a permanent solution in tackling air pollution adding that it affected the middle and lower classes as ‘affluent classes’ had many cars.
The observation came on the last day of the 15-day odd-day scheme in Delhi. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has put off till Monday the decision whether or not to extend the scheme.
The top court observed that the Central Pollution Control Board has said that fumes from cars constitute just 3 per cent of the total pollution levels. “Garbage dumping, construction wastes and road dusts are also major contributors to the pollution levels,” the court added.
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Observing that the governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi had failed to take effective steps to cutb pollution, the bench issued summons to chief secretaries to appear on November 25.
The Delhi government told the court that the plan had helped control pollution levels while admitting that without exemptions the scheme would have been more effective . “But it cannot be imposed on two-wheelers as it would cause havoc in the city due to lack of adequate public transport,” the Delhi government said.
The bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta added that the odd-even scheme is not a long term solution for the problem. Public transport services should be made better. But there hasn’t been much work towards it.
In the last hearing on November 13, the bench had directed the Delhi government and the CPCB to place before it the data of pollution in Delhi from October till November 14 this year.
The bench also directed them to submit pollution data from October 1 to December 31, 2018.
The petition, filed by a Noida-based advocate, has alleged that the Delhi government’s November 1 notification on the scheme violates fundamental rights. It alleged that the odd-even rule violates citizens’ rights to practice any profession, carry out any occupation, trade or business and to move freely throughout the country.
Delhi government’s odd-even scheme this year came into effect on November 4 and will continue till November 15. Under the scheme, four-wheelers with registration numbers ending with odd digits ply on odd dates and those ending with even digits ply on even dates.
The Delhi government is expected take a call today on whether or not the scheme should be extended. “As of now, Friday is the last day of the odd-even drive in Delhi. However, we have received a number of requests and appeals to extend the drive as air quality is still in the severe category,” Gahlot said.
Questioning the rationale behind the scheme, the plea in the Supreme Court claimed that three sources of data on Delhi’s air-quality, including those by the CPCB and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), have confirmed that in the past the odd-even rule did not lower pollution levels in the national capital.
“It shows that odd-even is nothing but a political and vote bank gimmick as it has been done capriciously in an unreasonable manner,” it said.