The Supreme Court on Friday said the Delhi government’s odd-even scheme seems to have not dented the intensity of air pollution in the Capital.
A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta issued directions to the DPCC to check vehicular pollution and swoop down on vehicles, trucks and three-wheelers illegally running on polluting fuel. The Bench sought a report in a week.
Justice Mishra observed that both owners and the officials concerned would be made liable for such vehicles plying on the roads of Delhi.
The court further asked the DDA, PWD and other civic bodies to co-operate with the monitoring committee to ensure the implementation of court orders. During the hearing, Justice Mishra asked senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing the Delhi government, about the impact of the odd-even scheme.
Mr. Rohatgi said the data convey a 5%-12% reduction in pollution. He suggested the removal of exemptions on two-wheeler vehicles during the implementation of the scheme would help further reduce pollution.
But he reminded that such a drastic step aimed at the common commuter would see the city come to a virtual standstill.
“We are only interested to know what is the impact on crucial days when it is really bad. That is the limited scope of our question,” Justice Mishra responded for the Bench.The judge asked whether the scheme was really making the cut in the government’s efforts to reduce pollution.
Justice Mishra observed that the AQI figure of last year and this year seem to be the same. Last year in fact the figure was better, the judge added.
Air purification towers
Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni, speaking on behalf of an expert from IIT Bombay, said a technology to set up air purification towers across Delhi would lead to the reduction of air pollution by 65% but it would take at least eight months.
Justice Mishra was asking for suggestions for a sustainable solution to curb pollution. The Bench observed that the odd-even scheme may not be a permanent solution, especially when the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has said cars constitute only three percent of the pollution.
The board said garbage dumps, construction wastes, and road dust were also major contributors to pollution. “We can try to control pollution but nature is not in our control. This is what happens when nature is misused,” Justice Mishra said.
The board added that the past effects of stubble burning are yet to die down but wind is expected to largely clear the smog soon.
Justice Mishra said increased use of public transport, by making it better for citizens, may work out to be a better solution than the odd-even scheme. Affluent persons still use cars and beat the scheme hollow. The judge said cities that have successfully used the scheme had given no exemptions.
The court further summoned the Chief Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, UP and Delhi to discuss the problem of stubble burning on November 29.