NEW DELHI--Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has found a solution to Delhi's rising pollution problem. The Delhi government has announced a proposal saying that private vehicles with odd and even registration numbers will be allowed on the roads of the national capital only on alternate days starting next month.
What this means is that from January 1, 2016, if vehicles with number plates ending with an odd number can be driven one day, only those ending with an even number can be brought out the next day.
However, this will not apply to public vehicles.
If implemented, Delhi will become first such city in India to have such a scheme and the only one after Beijing in Asia.
Delhi Govt decides that from 1st Jan 2016, private vehicles with odd number plates & even number plates are to ply on alternate days.— ANI (@ANI_news) December 4, 2015
Odd no. private vehicles to ply on one day, even no. vehicles on the next. Decision taken in view of rising air pollution in Delhi.— ANI (@ANI_news) December 4, 2015
The move came just a day after the Delhi High Court made a scathing observation that the current air pollution levels in the national capital have reached "alarming" proportions and it was akin to "living in a gas chamber".
A CSE expert said on Thursday that there has been a "seven-fold increase" in Delhi's air pollution level since October, even as real-time exposure readings of nearly all monitoring stations put PM 2.5 and PM 10 figures above the 'severe' threshold.
Experts say, the sheer amount of microscopic pollutants, that Delhi's air bear would have prompted authorities in Beijing, another severely polluted megapolis, to issue advisories restricting outdoor activities, shutting down factories and regulating vehicular movement.
At Anand Vihar, where pollutants have consistently breached safe limits, PM 2.5 and PM 10 were at a staggering 348 and 808 microgram per cubic meters. At Punjabi Bagh, PM 2.5 was 397 and PM 10 634 as per DPCC in the morning hours.
The corresponding safe limits are 60 and 100. Anything beyond that can harm the respiratory system as the particles embed themselves deep inside the lungs.
"There has been a seven-times increase in pollution levels since October 1. The winter pollution is going to be very serious. Advisories need to be issued asking people to minimise their levels of outdoor activity," Anumita Roychowdhury of Centre for Science and Environment said.
On November 27th, one of the US Embassy's pollution-monitoring stations in New Delhi recorded a chart-breaking reading of 999 on its custom-developed Air Quality Index. To put that in perspective, any reading above 150 is considered unhealthy, with the range 351-500 classified as 'hazardous'.
Delhi pollution off the scale today at 999 in RK Puram. In most countries this would be a public health emergency. pic.twitter.com/kzXRhtAWqT— Meru Gokhale (@MeruGokhale) November 27, 2015
The WHO has ranked outdoor air pollution among the top killers in India. Air pollution has also made India, the country with the highest rate of deaths caused by chronic respiratory diseases anywhere in the world. Bad air is also blamed for the growth in stress levels as well as non-communicable diseases, such as high blood pressure. The annual cost of the environmental damage due to outdoor and indoor air pollution has been estimated to be Rs 1,10,000 crore and Rs 87,000 crore respectively.
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