Can Mumbai have odd-even car scheme, asks HC

The Bombay High Court on Friday issued notices to the state government, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to report on the feasibility of implementing a Delhi-style odd-even plying rule for private cars in Mumbai.

While directing the three authorities to respond within two weeks, a bench of Justices V M Kanade and Revati Mohite-Dere said if immediate steps were not taken to contain vehicular pollution in Mumbai, the city might soon witness a situation similar to the recent flooding in Chennai or the bad air quality in Delhi.

Delhi's odd-even scheme intended as an emergency measure to control pollution ended on Friday but chief minister Arvind Kejriwal urged citizens to continue it voluntarily, citing improved air quality and lower traffic congestion.

The Bombay High Court bench was hearing public interest litigation seeking a similar rule, contending that the residents of Mumbai faced health problems due to air pollution caused by carbon monoxide emissions from vehicles and burning of solid waste by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

The petition filed by city resident Shadaab Patel said while Mumbai has a lower number of vehicles than Delhi, vehicular emissions are worse because of a rising number of diesel vehicles, congested roads and a lack of space for expansion.

Patel contended the only reason the recorded air pollution levels in Mumbai were lower compared to Delhi was the city's proximity to the sea.

The bench rued that indiscriminate construction along the city's coastline and encroachment by the slum mafia had resulted in irreparable damage to the city's natural guards against air pollution.

''Even the sea will not be able to save us for long. The city has witnessed indiscriminate construction along the coastline. Every speck of land, including the coastline and the wetlands, has been encroached upon either by developers or the slum mafia. Such indiscriminate construction and encroachment will result in a situation similar to the recent Chennai floods,'' the bench said.

The petition also said the nexus between developers, politicians and the slum mafia must be broken to protect the city's coastline.

At this, the bench observed that the city's slum population, at about 11 million, was larger than the entire population of some small European nations.

''The state must act soon. We will take up all these aspects once the state submits its reply,'' the bench said.