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'Speed Picks Up Only After We Intervene': SC Pulls Up States On Delhi Pollution

The Delhi government told the court that its odd-even scheme to curb vehicular emissions reduced road congestion.

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India
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Amid the deteriorating air quality in the national capital, the Supreme Court on Friday, 10 November, pulled up the Delhi government and the neighbouring states and said, "Speed comes after we intervene year after year."

The SC Bench comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing pleas related to Delhi pollution.

The apex court reiterated that it wanted farm fires to stop in the neighbouring state of Punjab.

"We want farm fires stopped, we want air quality to get better. It's your business how it occurs," Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said.

"We suggested a methodology, you do it however you want. But farm fires must be stopped," it said.

The court also asked states to show results on steps taken to curb pollution and posted the matter for hearing on 21 November.

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'Don't Shift The Burden On To The Court': SC On Odd-Even Scheme

On Thursday, the Delhi government, in an affidavit, told the court that its odd-even scheme to curb vehicular emissions reduced road congestion and said the the implementation will take place after the court's order.

"Don't try to not perform and then shift the burden on to the court," the bench said.

The court also questioned the effectiveness of the Delhi government's odd-even vehicle scheme.

"We had asked how do taxis come into Delhi...They said we'll introduce odd-even in this also. They said they're going to wait for SC order. But what does SC order have to do with this?" the bench said.

"Every little bit counts. We have a study that shows odd-even helps. Decongests roads, less traffic...Makes a difference," the Delhi government told the court.

This comes two days after the apex court asked the Delhi government whether the odd-even scheme had succeeded when it was implemented earlier. "These are all optics, this is the problem," the bench had said.

Referring to the rains in Delhi-NCR on Friday morning, “God may have heard the prayers of people and intervened, no thanks to the government,” Justice Kaul said.
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Earlier this week, Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced that the 'odd-even' rule will be implemented in Delhi from 13 November – a day after Diwali.

Under the 'odd-even' rule, first implemented in 2016, only vehicles with registration numbers ending with an odd digit will be allowed on Delhi roads on odd-number dates. Similarly, only those with even digits will be allowed on even-number dates.

Further, the Delhi government preponed the winter break for all schools from 9 November to 18 November due to the air quality.

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