NGT re­jects Delhi’s ex­emp­tion plea

Pun­jab Chief Min­is­ter Amarinder Singh re­fuses to meet his Delhi coun­ter­part Arvind Ke­jri­wal to dis­cuss is­sues re­lated to pol­lu­tion in the na­tional cap­i­tal

The Gulf Today - - Asia - BY RESMI SIVARAM

NEW DELHI: The Na­tional Green Tri­bunal (NGT) has re­jected a plea from the Delhi gov­ern­ment for ex­emp­tion to women driv­ers and two-wheeler riders from a pro­posed odd-even car ra­tioning plan, even as Pun­jab Chief Min­is­ter Amarinder Singh re­fused to meet his Delhi coun­ter­part Arvind Ke­jri­wal to dis­cuss is­sues re­lated to pol­lu­tion in the na­tional cap­i­tal.

The Delhi gov­ern­ment with­drew its pe­ti­tion with the NGT for modi­ica­tions. The green panel asked Delhi to ex­plain the logic for odd-even ex­emp­tions when they get back.

NGT asked the Delhi gov­ern­ment: “When re­ports have stated that twowheel­ers are more pol­lut­ing than four-wheel­ers, why do you in­tend to give ar­bi­trary ex­emp­tions? Is this a joke? What does one stand to gain from this? “Why don’t you take pos­i­tive steps? Why should we ex­empt any­body? If they (two-wheel­ers) are not pol­lut­ing, we will al­low them.” Why can’t you run “ladies only” buses to solve the prob­lem of women’s trans­port dur­ing odd-even scheme, it asked.

“Don’t gift in­fected lungs to chil­dren,” the panel told the Delhi gov­ern­ment. “They have to wear masks to school. What con­sti­tutes a health emer­gency ac­cord­ing to you? Mea­sures should be ap­plied au­to­mat­i­cally by gov­ern­ment af­ter dan­ger­ous lev­els of PM 2.5 and PM 10 per­sist for more than 48 hours.” Delhi gov­ern­ment’s plea for the ex­emp­tion was for one year or till 2,000 ad­di­tional buses are en­gaged.

It also sought the NGT’S help to en­sure that neigh­bour­ing states also im­ple­ment odd-even scheme.

The toxic smog re­mained over Delhi. While peo­ple choked, vis­i­bil­ity re­mained low. Sev­eral trains had to be can­celled. Ofi­cials claimed the The Air Qual­ity In­dex (AQI) showed an im­prove­ment, read­ing 308, ofi­cials claimed. How­ever, even at 308 the air qual­ity re­mains “very poor.” Light show­ers ex­pected on Wed­nes­day could clear the smog, weath­er­men said, but that could also con­trib­ute to wors­en­ing of the fog.

Amarinder Singh’s re­sponse to Ke­jri­wal was seen as a po­lit­i­cal one and not beit­ting a chief min­is­ter in times of a cri­sis like this. Haryana Chief Min­is­ter Manohar Lal Khat­tar has agreed to meet Ke­jri­wal on Wed­nes­day and the Delhi CM wanted Amarinder also to join.

The Ke­jri­wal gov­ern­ment ar­gues that smoke from the burn­ing ields of Pun­jab and Haryana is key con­tribut­ing fac­tor to Delhi’s chok­ing smog.

But the Pun­jab Chief Min­is­ter ear­lier called Ke­jri­wal a “pe­cu­liar per­son with views on ev­ery­thing but no un­der­stand­ing.” The Aam Aadmi Party was cool in its re­sponse. It said Ke­jri­wal has been fol­low­ing up with Pun­jab and Haryana chief min­is­ters on the smog is­sue. “Col­lec­tive ef­forts are needed to re­solve this grave is­sue,” AAP posted on Twit­ter.

Union road trans­port min­is­ter Nitin Gad­kari, mean­while, said the gov­ern­ment is con­sid­er­ing in­tro­duc­tion of elec­tric taxis and buses, bio-ethanol, methanol and other tech­nolo­gies to re­duce pol­lu­tion. The gov­ern­ment is work­ing on use of al­ter­na­tive and clean fu­els, in place of diesel and petrol, as an­other way of re­duc­ing ve­hic­u­lar pol­lu­tion.

The road trans­port min­istry has for­mu­lated a Rs400 bil­lion scheme to ease trafic con­ges­tion in Delhi which would also bring down pol­lu­tion lev­els as “ve­hi­cles won’t be stuck in trafic burn­ing ex­tra fuel,” Gad­kari said.

He said by­pass roads, and up­grad­ing of NH-24 into a 14-lane na­tional high­way will re­duce ve­hic­u­lar pol­lu­tion in Delhi by 50 per cent. The ar­gu­ment is that once the easterly and west­erly by­pass roads are open, thou­sands of ve­hi­cles can avoid Delhi. protested out­side the res­i­dence of Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh here de­mand­ing death penalty within six months to those who rape chil­dren.

The protest fol­lowed the rape of a one-and-a-half-year-old girl in the cap­i­tal.

Mali­wal urged Ra­j­nath Singh, Delhi Chief Min­is­ter Arvind Ke­jri­wal, Lt Gov­er­nor Anil Bai­jal, and Delhi Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Amulya Pat­naik to chair a meet­ing on the is­sue. She also urged all the lead­ers to visit the rape vic­tim in the hos­pi­tal.

MUR­DER

A 73-year-old woman was found mur­dered in her South Delhi home on Tues­day, po­lice said.

The vic­tim has been identiied as Chan­dra Mukhi, who resided in Sav­itri Na­gar area with her son Kuldeep in sep­a­rate lats of the same build­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, Mukhi was found mur­dered with her mouth, hands and legs tied up with clothes.

Kuldeep alerted po­lice on Tues­day af­ter he woke up and found his mother dead in­side her ground loor lat.

Her son re­sides on the third loor of the build­ing, the ofi­cer said.

“Dur­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the lat was found ran­sacked, equip­ments ly­ing on loor and almi­rahs opened,” ofi­cer said.

Mukhi’s hus­band worked with the MCD. He had passed away few years back. While two of her other sons stay in Canada and the US.

The ofi­cer said the probe will be from all pos­si­ble an­gles in­clud­ing rob­bery and per­sonal en­mity.

“CCTV cam­eras in nearby shops and res­i­dences are also be­ing checked to gather clues,” the ofi­cer added.

As­so­ci­ated Press

A school­boy walks across a pedes­trian bridge as the morn­ing sun is en­veloped by a blan­ket of smog in New Delhi on Tues­day.

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