Delhi's air quality back to 'severe plus', may worsen further

Delhi's air quality back to 'severe plus', may worsen further

The Delhi government on Monday did not file a review petition in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on the odd-even ruling, two days after it made a decision to hold the traffic rationing scheme in abeyance and said it would request the green court to exempt women and two-wheelers from the restrictions.

But as India's federal environmental court ruled against any exemptions - not including emergency vehicles and those running on greener compressed natural gas (CNG), or most of Delhi's public transport - local authorities said the scheme would be halted.

PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that has a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which is about 3 percent the diameter of a human hair.

Under the arrangement, private cars with odd registration numbers are allowed to run on odd dates while even-numbered cars will ply on even dates.

However, women, two-wheelers and government servants won't be exempted during the scheme.

The Delhi government on Monday also made a decision to work out a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) with state-owned helicopter service company Pawan Hans for aerial sprinkling of water over the city to contain pollution.

The court also directed all the neighboring state governments and departments to ensure complete mechanism during environmental emergency.

The road rationing scheme was to be implemented from November 13 to 17 in a bid to limit the number of vehicles on Delhi's roads after the city's air quality went "beyond severe" levels, causing widespread alarm.

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Should emergency measures to tackle air pollution like the odd-even scheme have exemptions? It was implemented for 15 days from January 1-15 and April 15-30 previous year. It is empowering to a woman, and neither the NGT nor the Delhi government has any business taking it away from us. The smog situation in the National Capital has been deteriorating for nearly past one week.

"We can not ignore the pollution", the Supreme Court bench said, adding that it will hear the plea today itself after finishing the matters listed on its board. Delhi's public transportation can not take that load.

The Delhi government counsel said that from next year, with better preparation, it would be in a position to implement the odd-even scheme without any exemption.

Earlier, AAP Chief and Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal had written a letter to his counterparts in Punjab and Haryana, seeking a meeting as soon as possible to discuss the rising smog issue.

The air quality in Delhi had deteriorated on Sunday after a sharp rise in presence of pollutants.The AAP dispensation was also in touch with environment scientists and continuously monitoring the alarming pollution level which has left people gasping for breath. She also added that Kejriwal government had not even thought that it was necessary to make alternative arrangements to keep a back up plan ready if things don't go as planned with the odd even.

Nikhil Pahwa, an activist and journalist who has written about air pollution, outlined 22 different ideas on Twitter to curb it, adding that the government has always been aware of such measures.

Delhi's air, among the world's dirtiest, worsens in the winter months. "I truly feel that this government is not very serious about controlling pollution", she reprimanded.

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