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The odd-even car-rationing scheme to return to Delhi

The odd-even car-rationing scheme will return to Delhi’s roads from November 4 to 15, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Friday afternoon.

Under the odd-even scheme, cars with licence plates ending in an odd number and even number are allowed to ply on alternate days, except weekends, but exemptions were earlier granted to women, VIPs and two-wheelers.

Kejriwal, however, did not give any details of exemptions planned under the scheme this time, saying, ““We will take into consideration all findings from the earlier odd-even experience.”

Addressing a press conference, Kejriwal said odd-even scheme would be part of a seven-point action plan to combat air pollution caused due to crop burning by farmers in neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana starting October.

However, the scheme will not be implemented if the pollution levels do not cross the danger levels as set by the Graded Response Action Plan of the Central Pollution Control Board, the CM said.

Other measures announced by the Delhi government include procuring masks on a mass scale to offer it to people, mechanised sweeping of roads, tree plantation, and special plans for 12 pollution hot spots in the city.

A campaign against firecrackers will also be launched. “We call upon people not to burst crackers during Diwali,” he said, adding that the AAP government will organise a laser show a day before the festival.

The announcement was made a day after Kejriwal met experts to discuss ways to contain winter-time pollution in the capital and received a thumbs-up from them on the odd-even formula, which was first implemented by the government in 2016.

Delhi has been ranked on top of the World Health Oragnisation’s ranking of the world’s most polluted cities for several years, with vehicular and industrial emissions, dust from building sites, and smoke from the burning of waste and crop residue contributing to it.

The pollution has gone down nearly 25 per cent in the last three years compared to the 2011-2014 period, but studies show that pollution needs to be further cut by 65 per cent to meet clean air targets.

While questions have often been raised on the effectiveness of the odd-even scheme, the Delhi government in a statement said Dr Ken Lee, executive director of Energy Policy Institute at University of Chicago, had on Thursday said the pilot scheme in January 2016 had “reduced particulate air pollution concentrations by 14 to 16%”. But it was highlighted that it remains an emergency measure and not a long-term solution.

Not all studies, however, are equally enthusiastic on its impact. In 2017, a joint study conducted by atmospheric scientists of IITs and IIM had revealed that pollution levels declined only by 2%-3% in the first phase of odd-even scheme. Only three areas in Delhi—Najafgarh, Shalimar Bagh and Greater Kailash—witnessed 8%-10% drop in pollution, the study said.

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