Delhi govt reconsiders odd-even scheme amid severe air pollution

Delhi government intends to thoroughly assess the recent Supreme Court order before implementing the odd-even traffic rule

NEW DELHI | Updated: 08 November, 2023 1:32 pm IST
Delhi govt to reconsiders odd-even after Supreme Court critique ( Photo by Sumit Kumar)

NEW DELHI: Delhi Environment Minister, Gopal Rai, has said that the government intends to thoroughly assess the recent Supreme Court order before implementing the odd-even traffic rule. This decision comes after the Supreme Court expressed concerns about the pollution situation in the capital and questioned the effectiveness of the odd-even scheme in regulating the number of vehicles on the road. The court remarked that it appeared to be more about optics than substantial change, which was made the day after the Delhi government announced the return of the odd-even scheme from November 13 to 20.

The Transport Department convened on Tuesday to finalise the details of the odd-even plan. However, they subsequently encountered some pertinent observations from the Supreme Court. Consequently, rather than immediately announcing the odd-even regulations, the government has opted to meticulously review the court’s order and observations. Environment Minister Gopal Rai explained this approach.

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“Has the odd-even scheme ever truly succeeded in Delhi, or is it just for show?” questioned Justice SK Kaul as he presided over a hearing on Delhi’s pollution alongside Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia. The Supreme Court also called upon the Punjab government to cease stubble burning, emphasising that while they may not know the specific methods, it was their responsibility to halt it.

In the past five days, Delhi has been grappling with worsening air quality, prompting the suspension of in-person school classes until November 10. Measures have been taken to limit non-essential construction work and restrict specific vehicles as air quality remained in the severe category. The Air Quality Index (AQI) on Tuesday revealed alarming numbers, with readings of 440 at Anand Vihar, 388 at Narela, 434 at Punjabi Bagh, 431 at RK Puram, 408 at Shadipur, 404 at IGI Airport, and 416 at Jahangirpuri.

The Delhi government previously announced the implementation of a week-long odd-even scheme from November 13 to November 20. This marks the fourth instance in which the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has sought to reintroduce the alternate-day system to alleviate road congestion. Under this scheme, vehicles ending in an even digit are permitted on even dates, while those ending in odd digits can ply on odd dates.

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However, Cars used for medical emergencies, driven by women, individuals with disabilities, and those carrying children under 12 years old, are likely to be exempt from this scheme. According to a government source, the restrictions will be in effect daily from 8 am to 8 pm. Additionally, two-wheelers are expected to receive exemptions from this regulation.

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