Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced that the odd-even road rationing scheme will be implemented in Delhi from November 4 to 15.
Kejriwal said the move was aimed at combating high levels of air pollution in winters when crop burning takes place in neighbouring states.
However, just minutes after Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that the odd-even car rationing scheme will be reintroduced in the capital to combat pollution, union minister for road transport Nitin Gadkari said there was no need for it right now.
“There is no need for it now….in next 2 years, Delhi will be pollution free. It’s their decision, let them do whatever,” Gadkari said.
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 the 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. In the previous two experiments in January and April in 2016, a fine of Rs 2,000 was imposed on the violators of the rule.
Kejriwal said the details of the scheme will be shared with people in coming days.
In the past, two-wheelers and female commuters were exempted from the rule.
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 stubble (parali) burning in the 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.
Talking about the impact of 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.
Kejirwal said 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 month before the spike in air pollution in next month due to parali burning,” he said.
Sprinkling of water and mechanised sweeping of roads will be undertaken to curb dust pollution. Twelve major pollution hotspots will be dealt with special plans and measures, he said.
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.