New Delhi: The odd-even road rationing scheme will come into effect in Delhi from November 4-15, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Friday, besides several other measures to combat high-level of air pollution caused due to crop residue burning in neighbouring states during winters.
Kejriwal announced the odd-even scheme as part of the seven-point 'Parali Pradushan' action plan that also includes mass distribution of anti-pollution masks, mechanised sweeping and water sprinkling on roads, tree plantation, and special plans for 12 pollution hotspots in the city.
During the 12-day scheme, vehicles will ply alternately on odd and even dates as per their registration numbers. There was no clarity over exemptions under the odd-even rule with the chief minister maintaining that related details will be shared later.
In its previous two versions, in January and April in 2016, holidays were exempted from the odd-even scheme, he said.
In the past, two-wheelers and female commuters were exempted from the rule. Violations of the rule were punished with a fine of Rs 2,000.
According to the graded response action plan (GRAP) devised by the Central Pollution Control Board, the odd-even scheme for private vehicles is implemented when the pollution level at 'severe plus' category persists for 48 hours or more.
The air pollution level in Delhi remains low in 11 months of a year, but picks up in November due to crop stubble (parali) burning in neighbouring states. Dense cloud of smoke covers Delhi, which becomes a gas chamber, the chief minister said.
"The Centre, and governments in Punjab and Haryana are making their efforts to prevent crop burning and the Delhi government will extend all possible help to them," he said.
Asserting the efficacy of the odd-even scheme, Kejriwal said studies have shown that it could reduce air pollution by 10-13%. The scheme was criticised by some sections, including experts, on the ground that effect on air quality was limited.
"We will utilise our experiences of implementation of odd-even schemes twice in the past in Delhi," he said when asked about overcharging by cab aggregators after the scheme is implemented.
The chief minister said that under the long-term plans to improve air quality in the city to "good" category, the government will soon announce its bus aggregator and e-vehicle policy.
Kejriwal said over 1,200 suggestions were received from the people regarding ways to combat air pollution in Delhi during winters. He also received feedback of environmental experts and resident welfare associations based on which the action plan was prepared.
"The Delhi government will make large-scale procurement of around 50-60 lakh 'best quality' N-95 anti-pollution masks which will be distributed among the people in October, before the spike in air pollution in next month due to parali burning," he said.
The Delhi government will hold a mega laser show on the eve of Diwali and appeal to the people to follow the ban on bursting of crackers on the festival.
"We appeal to the people to avoid bursting crackers on Diwali. The government will host a laser show on the eve of Diwali so that all people in the city could celebrate the festival. We hope people will not burst crackers after this."
Burning of waste and garbage will be checked through deploying two 'environmental marshals' in each ward. Besides, the government will engage RWAs and people to prevent the practice.
Also, a "Delhi Tree Challenge' campaign will be started by the government in which saplings will be home-delivered to people, he said.
A war room will be set up to deal with complaints on air pollution. Awareness will be created among schoolchildren and they will be roped in to motivate their parents to help in efforts to curb pollution, the chief minister said.