SC-appointed pollution panel chief on odd-even

The Delhi government’s odd-even pollution-control plan was not everyone’s “cup of tea”, but it was a move in the right direction, chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed Environmental Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) Bhure Lal said Tuesday.

“It (odd-even policy) is not our cup of tea. But any step taken to decrease the number of vehicles on the road is welcome. We can all see that the number of vehicles on the roads has significantly gone down and the flow of traffic is smooth,” said Lal.

When asked if neighbouring states like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh should also enforce odd-even vehicle operations, Lal said, “It takes political will. MNCs in Noida have started carpooling or converting to CNG. Once people are alive to the problem, they will definitely take steps to tackle it. If not voluntarily, then there is the force of law.”

The EPCA held its last meeting on January 2, in which, Lal said, UP and Haryana governments were told to follow the orders of the Supreme Court, like the Delhi government had done, on burning of garbage and cracking down on construction dust.

“Delhi has taken action but UP and Haryana are not enforcing it seriously. They think it is Delhi’s problem,” said Lal. He said that though cases of burning of garbage and leaves were seen in Delhi earlier, few such incidents were recorded now. The Delhi government had started imposing fines to control dust levels caused by large-scale construction, he said.

“You have to see the amount of construction that goes on in Noida, Greater Noida and Gurgaon,” Lal said.

Officers of the environment department, meanwhile, are expected to collect pollution data from 200 different locations across Delhi during the odd-even operations.

“We have seen a decreasing trend (in pollution) but East Delhi remains worrisome, especially areas like Seelampur. We are also told that there is a lot of vehicular movement around the Ghazipur border because there is a popular petrol pump there. We will have to take joint measures with the UP government to control pollution in East Delhi,” said a senior government official.

He added that Akshardham onwards, the land was owned by the UP government’s irrigation department and their participation in pollution-control activities was necessary.

Senior officials also said that on December 30, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) issued closure notices to thermal power plants at Rajghat and four of the five power units at Badarpur. “The closure notices state that the power plants will remain shut till March 15. We will review their condition after that,” said an official.

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