The Arvind Kejriwal government scrapped its plan to implement the Odd-Even road rationing scheme from Monday that was meant to help lift the noxious blanket of smog that has enveloped Delhi for the last six days. The decision was announced after an emergency cabinet meeting within hours of the National Green Tribunal's scathing criticism of the government's efforts.
The Green Court had approved the Odd-Even Rule this morning but with a number of riders. The chief among them was a scrapping of exemptions for officials, VIPs, woman and two-wheelers. Pulling up the government for delayed implementation of the Odd-Even Rule, the court had said, "It seems you just want to reduce vehicles from roads... What is the basis of exemptions if you want to improve air quality".
The Delhi government had announced the relaunch of the Odd-Even Scheme -- under which cars with license plates ending in an odd number and even-number are allowed to ply on alternate days - last week after pollution levels in the city far outstripped Beijing and doctors said it was a public health emergency. The scheme was to be re-launched on Monday for five days.
Today, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said the Delhi the government could not compromise on the safety of women. The government, he added, also did not have enough public transport alternatives to accommodate over 60 lakh two-wheeler riders.
"At the moment we are calling it off. We will again approach the NGT and will ask them to allow exemptions to women and two-wheelers," he added.
Sources said on Monday, the government would file an appeal in the Green Court to reconsider its "no exemption" for women and two-wheelers.
The other component in the decision to withdraw the plan was low pollution levels. The Central Pollution Control Board has told the Green Court that the level of Particulate Matter 10 is below 500 and Particulate Matter 2.5 is below 300.
The court had said the Odd-Even Rule should be implemented every time Particulate Matter 10 exceeds the level of 500 and PM 2.5 rises above 300 for 48 hours.
Angry villagers threw stones and broke into a housing society in Noida near Delhi this morning alleging that a young woman employed as domestic help in one of the apartments was held captive overnight and beaten up by her employers because they suspected her of stealing money.
The husband of the 26-year-old woman, Zohra Bibi, has filed a First Information Report or FIR with the Noida police against the employers, a couple who live in the apartment with their seven-year-old daughter. Her family said she did not return home all day yesterday and in the night; this morning they arrived with other villagers at the housing society Mahagun Moderne in Sector 78 of Noida.
t is not clear where the woman, who was taken to hospital this morning, was in the night. "We waited all night outside the society for her. We went to the apartment but they said she wasn't there. We even took the police. This morning we saw her come out of the society, " a relative of the women said.
The employers have alleged in a statement that the domestic help, who works in several other apartments in the complex too, stole 10,000 rupees and admitted that she had taken the money. They alleged that when they threatened to inform the housing society's office she ran away, leaving behind her mobile phone.
Other residents of the complex have told the police that Zohra was not held captive but had in fact spent the night at the apartment of an elderly woman where she works too.
In the morning, the villagers attacked the society. "They entered in my house by breaking the door glass. It was terrifying. It's about our life and I am afraid about the safety of my family and kid," Mitul Sethi, who runs a play school in the area, said in the statement. Her husband Harshu runs a real estate business.
More than 200 people, many of who also work as domestic help in housing complexes near their village, engaged in a scuffle with security guards who attempted to keep them out. Carrying stones and sticks, they broke open the society gate and attacked the facility office, witnesses said.
The Sethis were escorted out of the housing complex by security guards and have been moved to an undisclosed location with permission from the police.
The protests ended after police pacified the crowd and appealed for peace.
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