UPDATE: New Delhi ponders OddEven after NGT review

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NEW DELHI (Nov 14, 2017) – Implementation of Odd-Even traffic restrictions to reduce air pollution in New Delhi seems doubtful after a standoff between the government and National Green Tribunal.

The government planned to impose Odd and Even day roadhsaring in the National Capital Region but the plan was halted after the National Green Tribunal said there should be no exemptions to the rule. The NGR described as “illogical” the Arvind Kejriwal government’s request to make an exception for women and two-wheelers and questioned: “Why should anyone be exempt from the Odd-Even plan?”

The government was forced to withdraw an appeal but said it would file a fresh one.

The city’s air quality has been dangerously poor for two weeks and further deteriorated after a sharp rise in pollutant levels. Both PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels, measured at 480 and 712 micrograms per cubic metre, respectively, were back at the “emergency” threshold of the Graded Response Action Plan.

The Times of India reported on November 11 that the NGT gave its conditional approval to implement the policy between Nov. 13- 17 but that there could be no exceptions.

That prompted the government to delay implementation of the alternate day road rule. “The Odd-Even scheme from November 13-17 in the national capital has been called off in view of the order by NGT which withdrew all exemptions except on plying of emergency vehicles,” Delhi transport minister Kailash Gahlot said.  The decision to call-off the scheme was taken at a meeting chaired by Arvind Kejriwal with several ministers.

“Also we cannot compromise with the safety of women. We cannot take risks. PM2.5 and PM10 levels have also come down. So at the moment we are calling it off. We will file a review application in NGT on Monday,” the minister said.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had floated the idea of implementing the OddEven road rationing plan for the third time after hazardous smog engulfed the national capital earlier this week.

The environmental protection agency pronounced its decision at a special meeting it had called earlier in the day to determine whether the scheme will help reduce the near deadly levels of air pollution in Delhi and in the National Capital Region (NCR).

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