The fate of the odd-even vehicle scheme will be decided on January 11 by the Delhi High Court which today reserved its order on various pleas challenging the AAP government’s ambitious pilot project which will continue till then.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath reserved the order after the Delhi government informed it that the pollution level of particulate matter across the national capital showed a declining trend due to implementation of the scheme which began on January 1.
The AAP government’s response came after the bench had on January 6 questioned the impact of the odd-even operation on pollution and asked it to consider restricting it to a week.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the Delhi government, submitted that the capital is piloting its first- ever emergency action to reduce peak pollution levels.
“This is consistent with global best practice. Vehicles that are second highest emitters in the city are responsible for very high exposure and health impacts.
“The first few days of the programme have already demonstrated that peak pollution levels are lower than the normal smog peaks of the season despite the adverse weather conditions,” Salve said.
He said that the scheme is to reduce congestion on the capital’s roads that has further contributed towards lowering of pollution.
“Emissions from vehicles caught in the congestion increase two times due to idling and frequent accelaration and deceleration,” Salve submitted.
He also said, “The Delhi government must be permitted to continue with the odd-even vehicle rationing scheme and if these adverse weather conditions continue, then our recommendation is that the programme should also be continued beyond 15 days.”
The Delhi government told the bench that particulate and nitrogen oxide load from cars have come down during odd-even programme by as much as 40 per cent and higher share of pollution benefits have come from reduction in diesel cars.
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 is caused by trucks.
The Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) President Rajiv Khosla, one of the petitioners who has challenged the Delhi government’s December 28, 2015 notification that brought the formula, said the data submitted by the government is not correct.
During the hearing, Salve, who was accompanied by Transport Minister Gopal Rai, other AAP leaders and the Delhi government’s Senior Standing Counsel Rahul Mehra, submitted that the scheme was for the benefit of the people.
The bench, which was hearing 12 petitions challenging the odd-even formula, had on January 6 asked the AAP government to consider if it can be restricted to a week instead of a fortnight as it was causing inconvenience to the public.
It had also sought data related to changes in pollution level between January 1-7 and said though it does not interfere with the policies, the government must think about it as the people were complaining about inconvenience being caused to them due to insufficient public transport.
The petitions have been filed by various individuals, including lawyers, who have challenged the AAP goverment’s December 28, 2015 notification bringing into force the scheme which allows private cars having odd registration numbers to ply on odd dates and those with even numbers on even dates.