Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Despite odd-even, Delhi pollution severe, says Supreme Court

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Despite odd-even, Delhi pollution severe, says Supreme CourtNew Delhi, Nov 15 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday said in spite of Odd-Even vehicle rationing scheme, pollution has reached a severe level, and again called the Chief Secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, to report on measures taken to curb air pollution particularly related to stubble burning.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said, “Do not give exemption to two-wheelers, and it will work.”

During the hearing, the judges scrutinized the Odd-Even scheme of the Delhi government in respect of air quality index data gathered in the past two years. The judges queried the Delhi government counsel, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, what purpose the scheme served by keeping out cars which contribute mere three per cent of the total pollution.

The court observed that Delhi’s local pollution is a major problem, if stubble burning which contributes 40 per cent is kept out.

“According to the authorities, stubble burning has reduced to somewhere near five per cent now…we are concerned about Delhi’s local air pollution. What is the government doing?”

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The court observed the data presented by the authorities suggests the Odd-Even scheme had hardly any effect on improving air quality. “Question is: what are you gaining by this scheme?” observed the court.

Further commenting on the social aspect of the Odd-Even scheme, the court said “Odd-Even will only affect the lower middle class but not the affluent ones since they have multiple cars… Odd-Even isn’t a solution, but public transport could be. But nothing has been done about that, said the court. The hearing on the matter will continue on November 25.

The court said the odd-even scheme would remain half-baked if it does not cover two and three wheelers. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A.N.S. Nadkarni told the bench that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has had hardly any effect on the pollution. Counsel for Delhi government said as per study reports from various sources the pollution level has reduced from 5-15 per cent during this scheme.

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“There is a large number of two wheelers in the city and if we stop them then the whole city will collapsea.the real culprit is stubble burning”, insisted Delhi government counsel. The bench replied, “It was virtually the same without odd-even also”.

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The court noted that stubble burning has reduced in Punjab whereas it has increased in Haryana. “Why is this happening? We have to call the chief secretaries. It is shocking,” said the court.

The court directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to conduct random check of such vehicles, and hold everybody accountable. The court also asked the Delhi government to suggest steps to reduce pollution, as it continues to exist at dangerous levels.

The CPCB official told the court that vehicular pollution contributes 28 per cent to the total pollution — 8 per cent from trucks, 7 per cent from two wheelers, 5 per cent from three-wheelers and 3 per cent each by buses and cars.

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