Delhi pollution: NGT slams govt, SC to hear plea over rising smog

Georgia Reed
November 14, 2017

To reduce the pollution level, the Delhi government had ordered the implementation of the odd-even rationing of vehicles from today.

In spite of New Delhi's pollution crisis, a vehicle rationing scheme in the smog-hit capital has been dropped after a challenge from the national environmental court, the National Green Tribunal. However, the NGT stated that if the scheme is implemented, no exemption should be allowed to "any person or officer and two-wheelers".

"What is the data on the basis of which the odd-even scheme is planned to be introduced only for five days, specially when the pollution is now diminishing, as reflected by the reports from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC)", the Bench asked. "We will go back to NGT on Monday, file a review petition for them to reconsider their decision regarding the two", said Gehlot.

However, the decision was dropped by the Delhi government after the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) said none of the vehicles would be exempted. Large parts of northern India are also affected - in fact the air in some cities is worse than in Delhi. "Was the statement only for media?", asked NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar while hearing another case in the tribunal.

The court also directed various departments and executing agencies, including the Delhi police, for better cooperation and coordination during the odd-even scheme.

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A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud considered the submission that rise in dust particles on roads, and stubble burning in Delhi's neighbouring states like Haryana and Punjab have led to an alarming rise in pollution levels in the NCR and its adjoining areas.

Under the arrangement, private cars with odd registration numbers are allowed to run on odd dates while even-numbered cars will ply on even dates. "This is likely to be accompanied by addition of moisture to Delhi's air and fall in the temperature which may result in an increase in pollution levels", said a forecast report prepared by Gufran Beig, Project Director of SAFAR.

The toxicity in the air rose to "severe-plus" category on a day schools in the national capital reopened after remaining closed since Thursday due to "severe" air pollution levels.

Ghaziabad was the most polluted city in the entire NCR, with PM2.5 at an astounding 848 units at 4 p.m - 33 times the safe limit.

The worldwide permissible limit for PM2.5 - particles in air with diameter less than 2.5mm - is 25 units (micro gram per cubic metre), while for India it is 60 units.

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