Enforcing the odd-even road-rationing scheme was just one of the major takeaways of the Delhi government’s seven-point action plan to tackle air pollution in peak winter season announced by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Friday.
Speaking at the Delhi Secretariat, Kejriwal said, “Delhi’s pollution has reduced by 25%… We shouldn’t be satisfied with this and we have to reduce it significantly to say it (air quality) has become good.”
The action plan includes procurement of around 60 lakh N95 category masks that will be distributed for free. “We will start making them available in October, so people have them before November 1, when smoke (from stubble burning) starts coming in,” he said.
Discussions are expected over the next few days to decide how these masks will be distributed, officials said.
Kejriwal said the Supreme Court has banned burning of firecrackers in Delhi but people ignore this. To address this, the Delhi government will hold a “big” laser show for free on Choti Diwali. “Because of cold weather, a temperature inversion phenomenon causes smoke to remain on the surface, which creates breathing problems… We request people not to burn firecrackers and celebrate Diwali together,” he said.
There are also 12 hotspots in the capital that face a higher concentration of pollutants, and a separate action plan would be made for them.
Water sprinkling on a massive scale would also be done to control dust and the government would work with MCDs to enforce mechanised sweeping of streets. “We want to achieve 100% mechanised sweeping in Delhi,” the CM said.
Each ward will also get two ‘environment marshals’ to work on pollution control activities. A “massive” plantation of saplings, being called ‘Delhi tree challenge’, will also be a part of the action plan. A helpline number will be made available to people where they can message or WhatsApp to get saplings delivered home, Kejriwal said. “A war room is also being set up to receive pollution complaints.”
The winter action plan will continue in the remaining winter months in Delhi after the odd-even scheme — which starts on November 4 — ends on November 15.
The government expects around 4,000 buses to arrive in the next eight to 10 months, including 125 standard-floor cluster buses by September-end.