Over three years after it was last implemented in the National capital, the odd-even vehicle rationing scheme will make a comeback in Delhi from November 4-15, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced Friday.
Speaking at the Delhi secretariat, Kejriwal said smoke from stubble burning in neighbouring Haryana and Punjab veers over to Delhi around November 1, creating smog over the city and turning it into a “gas chamber”.
“The Centre, and Haryana and Punjab governments are making efforts to control stubble burning. We will help them, and keep writing and engaging with them on this, but in the meantime, we can’t just wait,” he said.
“Studies show 10% to 13% reduction in pollution because of this scheme, which is only an emergency measure, but the smog from stubble burning creates such an emergency,” he said.
Under the odd-even scheme, vehicles with odd and even number plates ply on the road on alternate days. The Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government had first implemented the scheme from January 1-15 in 2016. It was also implemented from April 15-30 the same year.
At the time, a fine of Rs 2,000 was set for violation of the scheme, which was imposed from 8 am to 8 pm every day except Sundays.
Two-wheelers, CNG, hybrid and electric vehicles, emergency and defence vehicles, VIPs and Supreme Court judges were previously exempted, as were single women drivers and women drivers with children below the age of 12.
The exemptions this time round have not been decided so far, Delhi Dialogue and Development Commission vice-chairman Jasmine Shah told The Indian Express. He said discussions will be held over the next few days, during which previous experiences will be analysed and a decision will be taken based on that.
He added that the scheme would be implemented even if pollution levels do not reach the ‘severe+ or emergency’ category, “because a ‘severe’ category is also harmful”. In the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) notified by the Union Environment Ministry, the odd-even scheme is to be introduced in Delhi-NCR if PM2.5 or PM10 — microscopic particles smaller than 2.5 or 10 microns in diametre — levels reach or exceed 300 and 500 micrograms per cubic meter of air respectively.
The scheme will be implemented as part of a seven-point action plan the Delhi government has formulated to control pollution during the winter months, with special focus on restraining the impact of pollutants from nearby states and emissions during Diwali.
Other aspects of the action plan include distributing around 50-60 lakh N95 category masks to residents of the capital; holding a light show on Choti Diwali as a deterrent to firecrackers; water sprinkling to control dust and mechanised sweeping of streets; deploying two environment marshals in every ward to control polluting activities there; controlling pollution in 12 hotspots in Delhi; and a tree plantation drive with engagement of residents by home-delivery of saplings.