04/12/2015 4:49 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Delhi's War On Pollution: Odd, Even Numbered Vehicles To Run On Alternate Days

MONEY SHARMA via Getty Images
Heavy traffic is seen during a smoggy day in New Delhi on November 30, 2015. Some 150 leaders including US President Barack Obama, China's Xi Jinping, India's Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the start of the Paris conference on climate change, which starts on November 30, tasked with reaching the first truly universal climate pact. AFP PHOTO / Money SHARMA / AFP / MONEY SHARMA (Photo credit should read MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

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.

ALSO READ: Delhi's Air Pollution Would Qualify As A Public Health Emergency

"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'.

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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