New Delhi, The Delhi government on Friday told the Delhi High Court that it may extend the odd-even scheme, aimed at curbing air pollution, beyond the planned 15 days trial period.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the city government, defended the scheme, saying there is “a definite positive effect” and it “may be continued after this two weeks (planned 15 days) period”.
“There has not been a single good air quality day this winter.
“Pollution is not going to go away. The odd-even scheme is an emergency measure to arrest peaking of the air pollution level,” he told a division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath as he submitted the data of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) on air pollution from January 1 to 8.
The bench took note of the report, which stated that this winter, pollution in Delhi is four times beyond the safety standard, and said it will pass an order on January 11.
Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai and Aam Aadmi Party member Ashish Khetan were present in the court during the hearing.
The government also told the court that it was in the process of buying more buses to augment the fleet of the existing public transport system.
The court had earlier asked the Delhi government whether it can limit restrictions on the plying of even- and odd- numbered vehicles in Delhi on alternate days to “a week” instead of the planned 15 days.
The bench also asked whether the pollution data collected by the government till now after the implementation of the odd-even scheme was enough to gauge the effectiveness of the policy.
“Why is it necessary to have it for 15 days. Is there any better method which can be brought in,” it asked.
The government claimed that vehicular pollution had fallen since January 1 when the scheme was launched. However, the petitioners contended that Central Pollution Cont rol Board data doesn’t show any decrease in air pollution level.
The court, hearing 12 PILs challenging the government decision to allow even- and odd-numbered vehicles to ply on alternate dates January 1-15, also asked why diesel cabs were still plying on roads despite a ban.