The Delhi government on Saturday called off the odd-even scheme, which was to be implemented from Monday, after the National Green Tribunal ordered the withdrawal of exemptions under it, Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said.
Gahlot said the government's decision came in view of the directive by the National Green Tribunal, which ordered the withdrawal of all exemptions, including to two-wheeler riders and woman-only vehicles, under the odd-even scheme.
The government is not ready "to compromise with the safety of women" after the NGT ordered that there should be no exemption to anyone expect emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire tenders, he said.
"We respect the NGT decision. Two conditions of NGT that two wheelers and women cannot be exempted make it difficult to implement odd-even as we do not have adequate buses," Gahlot said.
"Also we cannot compromise with the safety of women. We cannot take risks. PM2.5 and PM10 levels have also come down. So at the moment we are calling it off. We will file a review application in NGT on Monday," the minister said.
The decision to call-off the scheme was taken at a meeting chaired by Arvind Kejriwal and attended by ministers, including Gahlot, Gopal Rai and Imran Hussain.
Senior officials, including the Chief Secretary, were also present in the meeting at Kejriwal's residence.
Earlier in the day, a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said that no one should be exempted from the scheme, except for CNG vehicles and emergency services such as ambulance and fire.
During the hearing, the tribunal questioned the city government as to why it was granting exemptions to certain sections if the aim was to improve air quality.
The bench also issued notices to the National Highway Authority of India and the National Buildings Construction Corporation to show cause why exemplary cost should not be imposed on them for violation of its order putting a ban on construction activities.
The Delhi government had announced implementation of the odd-even scheme from November 13-17, given the high level of smog in the capital. Schools were also shutdown till Sunday.
A landmark IIT-Kanpur study, which covered the period 2013-14, has said that during winters, vehicles are the second largest and the "most consistent" contributing source of pollutants PM10 and PM2.5.
In terms of percentage, it comes to around 20-25 per cent during winters, the report says. The contribution of road dust is negligible during the colder months unlike summers when it plays a bigger role.
However, the share of two-wheelers, three-wheelers, four-wheelers, trucks and light commercial vehicles in the total vehicular contribution shows that trucks and two- wheelers are the major polluters.
According to the study, which was commissioned by the Sheila Dikshit government, the share of four-wheelers in the break up of vehicular contribution is 10 per cent each in cases of both PM2.5 and PM10.
On the other hand, the share of trucks and two-wheelers stands at around 46 per cent and 33 per cent respectively.
Photograph: Kamal Kishore/PTI Photo