NGT refuses to exempt women, 2-wheelers from odd-even scheme

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday refused to exempt women-only cars and two-wheelers from the Delhi government's odd-even car rationing scheme.

The tribunal asked the city government to ensure that over 10-year-old diesel vehicles are taken off the roads without delay.

The tribunal, which expressed concern over the high pollution level which was an "environmental and health emergency", said the city should "not gift infected lungs to its children".

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also asked the AAP government to identify the most polluted areas from Tuesday itself and sprinkle water from high-rise buildings.

The bench, however, allowed non-polluting industries which manufacture essential goods to operate.

During the hearing, the NGT also asked what the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are doing other than blaming each other. "What is UP, Haryana and Punjab doing? All of you are just blaming each other. You cannot just shift blame," it said.

The Delhi government withdrew its plea as the NGT was not convinced with its submission that the city did not have adequate public transport to cater to over 25 lakh commuters.

The government had sought modification of the NGT's November 11 order allowing odd-even scheme without exemptions. It wanted to put in place the third leg of the scheme due to the recent smog in the region.

The tribunal noted that as per reports of pollution control committees, two-wheelers caused greater pollution, and according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), approximately 30% pollution was caused by them.

"If you permit 68 lakh two-wheelers to ply, what will be the extent of the pollution? You said thousands of buses were ordered, but have not got a single bus yet. You wait for a crisis," the bench said.

Expressing anguish over the plea seeking permission to exempt women drivers from odd-even scheme, the NGT asked: "Are you (Delhi government) not responsible for safety of women who do not have cars and travel by metros and buses? Why can't you have a special ladies buses?"

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