Delhi's desperate measures: Odd, even number vehicles will ply on alternate days to curb pollution

New Delhi: In a radical step to curb alarming air pollution, Delhi Government on Friday restricted plying of private vehicles bearing odd and even registration numbers to alternate days from 1 January in the national capital.

The measures were announced following an emergency meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, a day after the Delhi High Court compared the city to a "gas chamber".

 Delhis desperate measures: Odd, even number vehicles will ply on alternate days to curb pollution

Representational image. Image courtesy: PTI

Chief Secretary K K Sharma said the government decided to shut down the Badarpur Thermal power station and will move the National Green Tribunal to close the Dadri power plant which falls in Uttar Pradesh.

He said Government will carry out a massive plantation drive along all arterial roads across the city to curb spread of dust and ensure vacuum cleaning of roads by the Public Works Department from 4 April.

The government was also mulling to allow movement of trucks only after 11 PM as they slow down overall vehicular movement which was pointed out to be a major contributing factor to pollution from vehicular emission.

The city government has also decided to make it mandatory for vehicles to have Euro VI standards for vehicular emission from 2017, two years before the Centre's scheduled introduction of the same.

Sharma said public transport will be significantly augmented to take the load of increasing passengers due to the odd-even number restrictions.

All private vehicles even having registration numbers issued by neighbouring states will have to follow the odd-even number formula.

Emergency services and public transport will not be under the ambit of the restriction, Delhi Dialogue Commission Vice Chairperson Ashish Khetan said, while noting that the idea has been borrowed from foreign countries.

The Kejriwal government has been focusing on improving public transport and introduced "car free day" in select areas. The government has announced that it will organise 'Car-Free Day' across the national capital on January 22.

The government said it aimed at cutting down vehicular pollution in the city by half with the measures it announced on Friday.

"Every year pollution level increases in winter. From 1 January, 2016, odd and even numbered vehicles will run on alternate days. Alternate arrangements are being made to bolster public transport. DTC buses, Metro services will ply extra. We are still working out the modalities," said the Chief Secretary.

He said a blue print will be prepared to implement the measures after holding talks with key stakeholders including traffic police, transport department and Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

The pollution levels in Delhi have risen significantly in the last few weeks.

On Thursday, the Delhi High Court had observed that the current air pollution levels in city have reached "alarming" proportions and it `was akin to "living in a gas chamber". It had directed the Centre and city government to present comprehensive action plans to combat it.

A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva termed the action plans filed by the environment ministry and Delhi government as "not comprehensive" as they did not contain specific responsibilities of each authority and the timeline for carrying them out.

It directed them to file comprehensive action plans, which are the need of the hour, by 21 December.

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday had said air quality in Delhi has been going from bad to worse and the situation was "serious", claiming the government has prepared a one-year plan to improve it.

CSE expert Anumita Roychowdhary welcomed the government's proposals saying that time has come to take "drastic measures" and people need to support the initiative.

Government will also have to come out with a detailed implementation strategy now, she said.

She said similar initiatives have worked in places such as Beijing and Mexico city which have also been grappling with high levels of pollution. "Some other cities like London and Stockholm have gone for congestion pricing instead," she said.

Sharma said public transport bodies such as Delhi Transport Corporation and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation would be asked to increase the frequency of their services to tackle an expected spike in numbers of commuters.

He said vehicles without Pollution Under Control certificates would be strictly barred from plying and entering the city's premises by officials of the Transport Department. "Even vehicles with PUC, but visibly causing pollution would be restricted."

The recently launched Swachh Delhi app would be modified making it possible for people to send images of biomass burning or other sources of pollution to the concerned authorities, he said.

"We have also decided to shut MCD parking lots on the roads that are responsible for slowing down traffic movement," he said.

Sharma said the details would be worked in a month's time for the measures to be rolled out in the stipulated time. The penalty for violating the measures have not been decided upon yet, he said.

PTI

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Updated Date: Dec 04, 2015 19:14:04 IST