Odd-Even scheme from Nov 13-17
NEW DELHI: As a toxic smog hung over Delhi for the third day and air quality worsened by the hour, the capital has declared a pollution emergency and banned the entry of trucks and construction activity; the odd-even scheme which restricts traffic will apply from Monday to Friday. There are growing calls for bigger government action to tackle what doctors have declared a public health crisis.
The odd-even car rationing scheme will be enforced in Delhi for a five-day period from November 13, city Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said on Thursday.
Under the policy, private vehicles are allowed to run based on the last number of their licence plates.
Odd-numbered cars are allowed to run on odd dates while even-numbered vehicles can only run on even dates.
The Delhi government has directed DTC to hire 500 buses from private contractors to tackle the rush of commuters during the odd-even implementation week. Delhi Metro will also provide 100 small buses during the period.
In 2016, the scheme was enforced twice — January 1-15 and April 15-30.
Keeping political differences aside, Centre, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi governments should come together to find a permanent solution to stubble burning which leads to high pollution every year, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Thursday.
Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said there was no need to panic over the poor air quality in Delhi and hoped the situation would return to normal in the "next few days".
The environment ministry has set up a high-level committee to monitor air pollution and come up with solutions.
Residents are complaining of headaches, coughs and smarting eyes. All 6,000 schools in Delhi are closed until the end of the week. A Delhi government advisory has urged anyone with breathing difficulties to remain indoors and said everyone should avoid strenuous activity.
The National Green Tribunal on Thursday issued a slew of directions to deal with the worsening air quality in Delhi and neighbouring states, banning construction and industrial activities and entry of trucks, as it lambasted the Delhi government and civic bodies over the situation.
"No construction activity will be carried out on structures until further orders... all industrial activities in Delhi-NCR which are causing emissions will also not be allowed to carry on their functioning" till November 14, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
Noting flagrant violation of the prescribed limits of PM (particulate matter) 10 and PM 2.5, it banned construction and industrial activities causing emissions till November 14.
The Delhi High Court has ordered an emergency meeting within three days between the top bureaucrats of the central government and those of Delhi, Haryana and Punjab. Representatives of agencies that handle pollution are also to attend.
Late on Wednesday, the Delhi government announced a set of measures to try to clean up the air. Commercial trucks have been banned from the city unless they are transporting essential commodities, car parking charges raised four times to force residents to use public transport.