Next odd-even throughout NCR, but fix public transport: EPCA

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New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) The Supreme Court-appointed environment panel on Friday said the next odd-even vehicle rationing scheme will be applied across the national capital region (NCR), including Noida, Gurugram, Faridabad and not just Delhi, with minimum exemptions.

The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), in a meeting held here with the governments of the neighbouring states, pushed for augmenting the public transport for successful implementation of odd-even scheme.

It said that a manual for the vehicle rationing scheme will be prepared based on the study of cities like Beijing, where such scheme is implemented.

While being assured by the Transport Departments of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh that they are working on augmenting the public transport system in the national capital, Gurugram and Noida, the EPCA said the odd-even scheme would, however, come without exemption only after the public transport is augmented.

In this regard, Gurugram is already procuring 500 additional buses of which 500 are CNG and 100 are electric, EPCA members said.

UP and Delhi are also procuring more buses with some expected to ply on roads by the end of this year.

“Next time when odd-even has to be implemented, there has to be a mechanism in place so that it applies at all the urban areas of Delhi-NCR with minimum exemptions meant only for the emergency vehicles and not two-wheelers or women drivers,” Usman Naseem, researcher at the Centre for Science and Environment and EPCA member, told IANS.

The EPCA also discussed the difficulties faced during the recent smog episode in Delhi-NCR with the implementations of restrictions for “severe plus or emergency” air quality situation under Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

The EPCA imposed “severe-plus or emergency” category of GRAP from November 7 to 15 for the first time under which all measures and restrictions were imposed except the “odd-even scheme” due to the disagreements between the Delhi government and the National Green Tribunal.

The severe-plus or emergency category of measures under GRAP comes in force if the major pollutant PM2.5 and PM10, or particles in air with diameter less than 2.5 and 10 micrometers, stay above 300 and 500 units for over 48 hours.

The safe limit for PM2.5 is 25 microgrammes per cubic meters as per international standards and 60 units as per national standards.

“It has also been decided that the odd-even scheme shall come in force automatically once the pollution level reach emergency levels, as the NGT directed,” said Naseem.

The meeting held with stakeholders included state and Central pollution control boards, governments of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The EPCA also instructed the IMD for better forecasting and informing at least five to seven days prior to the possibilities of the emergency or smog-like situation in Delhi-NCR, so that the NCR governments are prepared in advance to handle the situation under GRAP.

Discussing casewise difficulties faced by the authorities while implementing GRAP recently while Delhi-NCR reeled under the environment emergency, the environment panel said the state pollution control boards will now keep a tab on all the industries, like stone crushers, for better communication of stopping their activities in case air-quality goes severe.

“This would help with better implementation during the next winter,” EPCA said.

The GRAP under EPCA includes several restrictions in Delhi-NCR like closing schools, banning diesel generator sets, hike in parking fee, augmentation of public transportation, implementation of odd-even road rationing scheme, stopping construction activities, water sprinkling to avoid dust-pollution, closing down the brick kilns and ban on the entry of trucks in the national capital including others.

–IANS

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