Delhi government seeks exemptions for odd-even this year

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A thick cloud of toxic smog 10 times the recommended limit continued to envelop Delhi today, as state government officials struggled to tackle a public health crisis that is well into its second week. It has been a week that health emergency is declared in Delhi as hazardous smog clouds the region, making it risky for the people to breath.

On Saturday, the government put the plan on hold after the green tribunal objected to exemptions granted to women and two-wheelers.

"We have filed the review petition demanding exemptions for women drivers and two-wheelers for this year only", Delhi government counsel Tarunvir Singh Khehar told the media here.

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The bench, headed by NGT chairperson, Justice Swatanter Kumar, said that the government has not implemented all the measures suggested for pollution control and has only gone after the odd-even scheme. "The report has been submitted to the chief minister and the cabinet". The scheme, which alternatively bars even and odd numbered cars from plying on Delhi roads was meant, in some measure, to stem the rise and rise of noxious elements in the air that the larger NCR and surrounding areas are breathing. After the meeting was concluded the odd-even was called off and the AAP made a decision to file another plea to reconsider the scheme with the exemption condition given by the party. "We are still going to ask NGT to review the existing plea", he said. As the NGT is to take up the hearing today, there is no show of the lawyer from the Delhi government's side. "This forced the NGT to wonder if all the objections raised by the AAP are for grandstanding before the media".

The 3 member bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud agreed to hear the matter at the end of the board today.

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.

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"More than 32 lakh people travel by bikes everyday in Delhi".

Gargava of the CPCB, who is in charge of monitoring air quality, said Delhi's air has been consistently in the "hazardous" zone, despite measures such as a halt to construction and increasing auto parking charges four-fold to encourage people to use public transportation.

Earlier the NGT had also announced that until Monday all the schools will be shut down and there will be a ban on trucks carrying construction material and on construcion sites until next notice.

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Meanwhile, all government and private schools in Gurugram will remain closed today in view of the alarming air pollution levels. The smog situation in the National Capital has been deteriorating for nearly past one week. If they are not exempted from odd-even scheme, they may shift to public transportation.

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