Home >politics >policy >Why not restrict odd-even scheme to a week, HC asks Delhi govt

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Wednesday asked the Delhi government if it would be possible to limit the ongoing odd-even traffic scheme to curb pollution in the city to a week instead of 15 days.

“Would it be feasible to confine the scheme to one week rather than the proposed time of 15 days? The government has data on pollution for one week on the basis of which they can formulate a report and take action, so what is the need to continue with the scheme for the next week?" G. Rohini, chief justice of Delhi high court asked Rahul Mehra, the counsel for the government.

The court also directed the state government to collate and submit by Friday the data on change in pollution levels for the one week of the scheme from 1 January.

The court was hearing a batch of 12 public interest writ petitions that highlighted the practical difficulties faced by the public due to the odd-even scheme.

As per the plan, cars with odd-number licence plates are allowed on the roads on odd dates, and those with even-number plates on the other days. The scheme is applicable from 8am to 8pm from Monday to Saturday.

One of the petitioners, Shweta Kapoor, also questioned the legal sustainability of such a plan. “The power of the state government under provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 cannot be extended to cause inconvenience to the public," the petition said.

A similar view was taken by Rajiv Khosla, president of Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) who told the court, “Restriction on the basis of registration numbers is wrong and results in extending the scope of the applicable provision of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Also, the penalty being imposed under the scheme is not in line with legal provisions which provide for penalty on the basis of permissible load of the vehicle and no other factor."

Exemption to two-wheelers under the scheme was challenged by Karuna Chhatwal, who told the court that there was no constitutional provision which empowered the state government to grant the exemption to two-wheelers though it created more pollution than cars due to the combustion technology at use. Two-wheelers are included in the list of 25 categories that have been kept out of the scheme.

A prayer for bringing lawyers into the exemption list was made by Rahul Aggarwal, on behalf of lawyers. “We are not challenging the scheme. However, we as lawyers have to go to different courts everyday carrying books, briefs and it is very difficult to use public transport for this purpose," Aggarwal told the court.

The court was informed that the exemptions made by the state government ignored the needs of senior citizens.

A plea for conducting a city-wide audit to determine how accessible public transport facilities and government buildings are for the disabled was also made by advocate Jai Dehadrai in one of the petitions.

The government has also introduced 3,000 extra buses. During these 15 days, metro services across the capital will operate more services.

The scheme has received support from all sectors, including from the chief justice of India T.S. Thakur who stressed the importance of car pooling to check rising pollution.

The next date of hearing is 8 January.

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