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Home / News / India /  Arvind Kejriwal brings back odd-even rule to control pollution levels

NEW DELHI : The Delhi government will implement its car rationing or odd-even scheme during 4-15 November to tackle rising pollution levels during winters. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said studies have shown that the scheme helps to reduce air pollution.

However, Union minister Nitin Gadkari countered the claim, saying the step was not needed. “There is no reason for odd-even. The new ring road has reduced pollution in the national capital. The steps that we are taking, I am sure that Delhi’s pollution problem will be fixed in two years," Gadkari said in Nagpur.

Kejriwal on Friday announced a seven-point agenda as a precautionary measure to tackle air pollution, which peaks in November due to crop burning in neighbouring states. Along with the odd-even scheme, the government is also procuring face masks, which will be distributed free.

Delhi had implemented the scheme earlier, but people remain divided on its efficacy. This will be the third time the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government will enforce the scheme, wherein cars with odd and even number plates will ply on alternate days.

Kejriwal told a press conference, “4-15 November odd-even (scheme) to be applied. The studies around this have shown that pollution levels fall. Odd and even is an emergency measure. It cannot be implemented for too long. Details will be clarified in the next few days." He said studies have shown that it leads to a 10-13% fall in pollution levels in the city.

Kejriwal said Delhi will continue to work with neighbouring Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh to find an alternative to stubble burning, which is a key reason for the spike in pollution levels in November.

Senior officials of the state government said that closer to the day, the scheme will be finalized based on the pollution levels in the national capital. The scheme will not be implemented over the weekend and women drivers will likely be exempt.

Last week, the government had invited suggestions from residents to tackle rising levels of pollution in Delhi. It received over 1,200 suggestions. It also claimed that pollution levels have declined by 25% over the last four years.

The government will also procure five to six million pollution masks, besides starting a tree planting challenge to increase green cover. It will distribute plants, deploy volunteers to control wood burning during winters, with special provisions for 12 pollution hotspots across the city.

“As per the Supreme Court’s direction, we want the residents of Delhi to not burn crackers. Delhi government will organize a laser show on Chhoti Diwali so that the city can together celebrate the festival," Kejriwal said.

While the odd-even scheme and the Diwali restrictions will end, the remaining five points in the agenda will form the winter action plan of the government.

Speaking on the Motor Vehicle Act, Kejriwal said the implementation of the new rules have led to improvements in traffic and people are now following the law. Even as other states are working to reduce fines, the Delhi government said it has no plans to do so. “So far the experience has been good. I have spoken to a lot of people and everyone wants the traffic to improve. We are taking a look at it. We are a very sensitive government and don’t want people to be troubled. If there is a certain fine or provision that is troubling people, and if we have the power to make changes, we will do that," he added.

“We suggest that the government considers plying restrictions on pre-2010 vehicles, especially commercial vehicles and ensuring high occupancy car ridership during periods of air pollution emergency," Sumit Sharma, director, earth science and climate change at Teri said.

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