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Delhi To Work On Implementation Of Odd-Even Scheme Amid Deteriorating Air Quality

As the national capital’s air quality once again deteriorated to “severe,” Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai held an urgent meeting on Wednesday to examine the execution of the Supreme Court’s observations on the odd-even car rationing plan.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court referred to the plan as “optics” while also casting doubt on its effectiveness and track record of bringing down the dangerously elevated pollution levels in the nation’s capital. The Delhi administration had declared on November 6 that it would implement the odd-even programme in an effort to reduce vehicle pollution.

The Delhi government, led by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), was also asked to respond to the court by Friday on alternate strategies the court recommended to lower vehicle pollution.

The Delhi government intended to make public information regarding the odd-even scheme’s implementation, including the exemptions and penalties that will be in place. Rai, however, stated that they will wait for the written orders from the court before making a decision regarding the scheme’s execution in accordance with the directives issued by the SC on Tuesday.

In an effort to address the current pollution crisis, the government has declared that the automobile rationing plan will be implemented for a week starting on November 13.

Judges Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia expressed disapproval of the proposal on Tuesday, asking if the odd-even formula had ever worked before. They’re all just for show. The odd-even plan was been implemented in Delhi three times, in 2016, 2017, and 2019.

Aparajita Singh, an amicus curiae, expressed the court’s perspective by calling the plan “unscientific” and citing a December 2nd, 2017 ruling from the top court ordering Delhi and the surrounding states to adopt the color-coding scheme. In essence, it included easily identifying cars by classifying them according to the type of fuel they used. For example, private cars running on diesel had an orange tag, whereas cars running on petrol got a blue tag.

In a meeting held after the court’s orders, Delhi minister Rai said, “We held a meeting today with officials from the traffic police, transport and environment departments where how to implement the odd-even scheme was discussed. However, we will make any further strategies or announcement only after we have carefully studied the SC order.”

Transport minister Kailash Gahlot also directed the department to ensure no polluting vehicle enters Delhi from other states even as a ban is in place on non- BS VI vehicles. “However, it has come to my notice that polluting vehicles are entering Delhi borders at odd hours from neighbouring states without any hindrance. It appears that no checking is being done… to restrict entry of such polluting vehicles…,” stated the minister’s order.

The declaration made on Monday is an attempt to deflect attention away from the pollution situation, according to the office of lieutenant governor VK Saxena, who also claimed that Rai had not endorsed the plan to implement the odd-even scheme in writing.

The odd-even rule, which was implemented by the Arvind Kejriwal-led government in 2016, permits private automobiles to be driven only on alternate days, contingent upon the last digit on their licence plate. According to this arrangement, cars whose licence plate numbers end in even digits can drive on even dates, and cars whose licence plate numbers end in odd digits can drive on odd dates.

Even dates (dates ending with 0, 2, 4, 6, 8)

Odd dates (dates ending with 1, 3, 5, 7, 9)

When the plan was being implemented in 2016, the Delhi government released a notification stating that the limits also applied to four-wheeler vehicles registered in other states but not used for transportation. The warning further stated that the owner would be subject to a sizable fee for breaking the limits.

Usually, the plan is put into action to address the extreme air pollution that the nation’s capital faces.

On Wednesday morning, the air quality in Delhi and its surrounding areas fell into the bad category once more. One-third of the air pollution in the national capital is caused by smoke from burning post-harvest paddy straw in adjacent states.

The city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) was 421 at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, down from 395 at that time.

The amount of PM2.5, a type of small particulate matter that may enter the respiratory system deeply and cause health issues, was seven to eight times higher in the capital than the government-mandated safe level of 60 micrograms per cubic metre, even with a little decline.

It was 30 to 40 times higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended safe threshold of 15 micrograms per cubic metre.

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