Hours after the National Green Tribunal refused to exempt women and two-wheelers and ordered that diesel vehicles over 10 years old be taken off the roads immediately on Tuesday, the Delhi government again moved the green panel seeking the same exemption for a year or till 2,000 buses are added to the public transport fleet.
The fresh petition also sought a direction from a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar that the neighbouring states should also be asked to implement the scheme.
The modified petition was filed hours after the NGT expressed concern over the high pollution level, terming it an 'environmental and health emergency' and saying that the city should 'not gift infected lungs to its children'.
The fresh petition claimed that denying exemption to the two-wheelers, whose number is above 68 lakh, and women would cause great hardship and may affect safety of women.
"The conditions prescribed for such implementation are such in nature that the implementation of the scheme will cause great hardship to two wheeler owners. This may affect the safety and security of women drivers also," it said.
It said that in case of inclusion of two wheelers in the scheme, at least 25 lakh two wheelers owners will have to use the other modes of transport on a particular day.
"In order to accommodate 25 lakh additional passengers, the government would require at least 2,500 buses for successful implementation of the scheme and to avoid any hardship to the public, leading to disruption of economic activities and livelihood of majority of two wheelers," it said.
It also sought exemption for the women saying they would not find themselves comfortable while travelling in heavily crowded public buses because of reasons of safety.
"This government was not able to procure sufficient number of buses so far because of non-availability of land for construction of depots. Now, the depot space has been created for about 2000 buses and the Government of Delhi has already approved the proposal to engage 1000 buses in cluster scheme and to purchase 1000 buses by Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC)," it said.
The government said it expected that the tender to acquire 2,000 buses will be finalised in three months and the buses should start coming in the next six months.
"The problem of shortage of public transport will be largely addressed within one year, after which the two wheelers and the women drivers can be included in the non-exempted categories," it said.
Earlier in the day, the green panel had refused to exempt women and two-wheelers and ordered that diesel vehicles over 10 years old be taken off the roads immediately.
It had also asked the city government to identify the most polluted areas today itself and sprinkle water, while allowing the non-polluting industries and those manufacturing essential goods to operate in the Delhi-National Capital Region.
It had directed the government to ensure that over 10-year-old diesel vehicles be taken off the roads without delay while expressing concern over the high pollution levels.
The NGT had on November 11 refused to exempt women and two-wheelers from the odd-even car rationing scheme to tackle pollution.