A day after the Supreme Court asked the Delhi government to consider allowing only locally registered taxis to ply on its roads over mounting air quality concerns, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Wednesday said app-based taxis stand banned in the city. However, it remains unclear if the restriction will be implemented immediately or not.
In another important development, the Environment Minister said a plan to induce artificial rain is also on in the national capital.
Even the officials concerned remain unsure if the ban on app-based taxis will be implemented in tune with the odd-even car rationing scheme, news agency PTI reported. The transport department will issue a detailed order on the issue and it will clear things, it added.
The Supreme Court's remarks came in light of taxis registered in other states being hired to carry just one passenger amidst the pollution crisis. "We may also note that there is a large number of app-based taxis in Delhi which have registrations in different states. If we look at the roads, each one is carrying only one passenger. We would like to know whether there is any way of monitoring, especially during this period of time, that only the taxis registered in Delhi are permitted to ply as an additional measure to control the pollution," the apex court order stated.
According to the minister, the ban direction to the transport department was given "in accordance with the Supreme Court's orders".
"The court has said that taxis registered outside Delhi should be banned from entering Delhi. Directions have been issued to the transport department to ban app-based taxis from outside Delhi from entering the city," Gopal Rai was quoted as saying by PTI.
The minister mentioned that the Supreme Court had also said diesel cars with orange stickers should be banned.
"We have asked the transport department to examine how many such vehicles are there. Under the GRAP guidelines, BS-III and BS-IV diesel vehicles are already banned and the transport department has been asked to examine how many BS-VI diesel vehicles are there and if they are banned and (if) odd-even is implemented what will be its impact," Rai said.
"The transport department has been asked to prepare a comprehensive report and we will submit it in the Supreme Court on Friday," he added.
Delhi plans to induce artificial rain, but...
The plan to induce artificial rain through cloud seeding came to life after the government held a meeting with a team from IIT-Kanpur. The scientists explained that cloud seeding can only be attempted when there are clouds or moisture in the atmosphere.
"Experts anticipate that such conditions could develop around November 20-21. We have asked the scientists to prepare a proposal by Thursday that will be submitted to the Supreme Court," the minister said.
Cloud seeding involves dispersing substances into the air to encourage condensation, resulting in precipitation. The most common substances used for cloud seeding include silver iodide, potassium iodide and dry ice (solid carbon dioxide). These agents provide the nuclei around which water vapour can condense, ultimately leading to the formation of rain or snow.
This weather modification technique has been utilised in various parts of the world, primarily in regions experiencing water scarcity or drought conditions.
Some of the countries and states that have employed the cloud seeding technology include the US, China, Australia, and the UAE.
However, the effectiveness and environmental impact of cloud seeding remain subjects of ongoing research and discussion.
Odd-even system for cars
The Delhi government on Wednesday said the odd-even car rationing scheme will be implemented in the national capital after the Supreme Court reviews its effectiveness and issues an order.
"The ban will be there on app-based taxis registered outside Delhi only during the period of implementation of odd-even car rationing scheme," said a transport department official.
Delhi's air quality 'severe' again
ir quality in Delhi and its suburbs dropped to the 'severe' category again on Wednesday with smoke from post-harvest paddy straw burning in neighbouring states accounting for over one-third of the air pollution in the national capital.
The city's 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI), recorded at 4 pm every day, stood at 426, worsening from 395 on Tuesday.
Several cities across the Indo-Gangetic plains reported hazardous air quality. Neighbouring Ghaziabad (384), Gurugram (385), Noida (405), Greater Noida (478) and Faridabad (425) also reported hazardous air quality.
According to data from the Decision Support System, a numerical model-based framework capable of identifying sources of particulate matter pollution in Delhi, stubble burning in neighbouring states, especially Punjab and Haryana, accounted for 38 per cent of the air pollution in Delhi on Wednesday. It is likely to be 27 per cent on Thursday.
- With PTI inputs