NEW DELHI: The odd-even scheme for private vehicles to improve air quality in Delhi would continue at least till Monday when the Delhi High Court decides its fate,as the AAP government today claimed that pollution levels had gone down in the eight days it has been in force.
“We will pass an order on Monday (January 11),” a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath said after conclusion of arguments, with Delhi government defending its stand on the issue saying the per capita toxic gas emission had declined due to lesser number of cars on city roads and sought that the scheme be allowed to run as scheduled.
“This winter, out of all the severe smog episodes so far (with several consecutive days in severe category), the peak pollution during odd-even programme has been lowest. This shows that despite the hostile weather conditions … the peak pollution during odd-even scheme has been much lower.
“The earlier smog episodes have seen much higher peaks and much more rapid build up compared to the rise that happened during the first week of odd-even programme. This proves that reduced traffic volumes have arrested the peaking of pollution. This validates the importance of the emergency action,” the Delhi government said.
The AAP government’s response came two days after the high court questioned the impact of the odd-even operation on pollution and asked it to consider restricting the programme, slated for a fortnight till January 15, to a week.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Delhi government, said the programme was implemented as an emergency action to arrest the high emergency peak when the overall pollution levels were 5-6 times higher than the standards.
“This is needed to protect public health in a city where every third child has impaired lungs,” he said while referring to a report prepared by Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) of National Capital Region (NCR).
Mr Salve further submitted that EPCA has recommended that “the Delhi government must be permitted to continue with the odd-even vehicle rationing scheme beyond 15 days, if adverse weather conditions continue”.
However, this submission was opposed by the petitioners who said the AAP government has carried out a pick-and-choose policy against car owners, whereas 46 per cent pollution was caused by trucks.