Bhure Lal, chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), recommended to the pollution watchdog CPCB on Wednesday that it should implement either the odd-even scheme or impose a complete ban on non-CNG private vehicles if the air pollution level in Delhi increases again.
Lal reaction came on a day Delhi's air quality "improved significantly" since Diwali as overnight rains washed away larger pollutants and stubble burning in neighbouring states declined. The air quality, however, was "poor" with an AQI of 293.
A couple of days ago, Lal had written to chief secretaries of Delhi and neighbouring states, asking them to consider a ban on private vehicles barring those running on CNG.
In a letter to CPCB member secretary Prashant Gargava, Lal said all cities, which have similar emergency plans “like Paris or Beijing” include restrictions on private vehicles, adding that vehicles contribute as much as 40 per cent of the total emission load in Delhi and roughly 30 per cent in the region.
"In this situation, the only option is to look at either a complete ban on all private vehicles (without the identification of petrol or diesel), other than CNG and/or restriction on plying by number plate (odd-even)," he said.
Reacting to the recommendation by Lal, the CPCB said the additional steps, including the complete ban on non-CNG private vehicles, should be "deliberated" by the EPCA, which is a larger body.
Last month, Lal had said the use of private vehicles could be stopped in Delhi if air pollution got worse. His comments came after Delhi’s air quality turned 'severe' for the first time this season.
"Let us hope the air pollution situation in Delhi doesn't deteriorate but if it turns out to be an emergency, we will have to stop the use of private transport," Lal had said
In 2016, the odd-even scheme was enforced twice -- January 1-15 and April 15-30 -- in Delhi when vehicles having odd and even numbers were allowed to ply on alternate days as the air quality deteriorated.
Meanwhile, rain showered the national capital in the night and through the wee hours on Wednesday. Delhiites did wake up to a fresh and less smoggy day. The early morning drizzles ushered in the wintry cold and provided the much-needed respite from the severely polluted air that has been choking the residents for the past one week. Delhi’s air quality “improved significantly” and temperature is likely to fall, but the air quality is “far from safe”, authorities said.
The air quality was still in ‘very poor’ category with AQI of 306, according to the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR). The AQI has been moving from very poor to severe for the past week. Similar conditions are likely to prevail in the coming days, SAFAR said.
(With PTI inputs)