The odd-even road rationing scheme is set to return in the national capital from November 4-15, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday announcing a slew of measures to combat high-level of air pollution during winters.
Kejriwal said the odd-even scheme was part of the seven-point ‘Parali Pradushan’ (pollution caused by crop stubble burning) action plan that also includes mass distribution of anti-pollution masks, mechanised sweeping and water sprinkling on roads, tree plantation, and special plans for 12 pollution hotspots in Delhi.
While the BJP termed the move a “publicity gimmick” meant to “harass” people, the Congress dubbed it a “ploy” to divert attention of the people from the pressing problems in the city.
Referring to the steps taken by his ministry to decongest the national capital’s roads, including building the eastern and western peripheral expressways, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said there is no need for the odd-even scheme as the new ring road built by the Centre is helping reduce pollution in Delhi to a certain extent.
Talking to reporters in Nagpur, he said his ministry is pursuing road works with a cost of about Rs 50,000 crore, besides cleaning the Yamuna river.
Gadkari later told PTI the Delhi government has the right to take its decision for combating pollution.
“The Delhi government has the right to take its decisions. We have no problem,” he said expressing confidence that the air and water pollution in the national capital will come down due to the steps taken by the state dispensation and the Centre.
Other works to curb pollution are also underway, the Union minister said.
During the 12 days when the odd-even scheme will be in force, vehicles will ply alternately on odd and even dates according to their registration numbers. There was no clarity over exemptions under the odd-even rule with the chief minister saying that the related details will be shared later.
In its previous two versions, in January and April in 2016, holidays were exempted from the odd-even scheme, Kejriwal said. In the past, two-wheelers and female commuters were exempted from the rule. Violations of the rule were punished with a fine of Rs 2,000.
According to the graded response action plan (GRAP) devised by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the odd-even scheme for private vehicles is implemented when the pollution level at ‘severe plus’ category persists for 48 hours or more.
The air pollution level in Delhi remains low 11 months a year, but picks up in November due to crop stubble (‘parali’) burning in neighbouring states. Dense cloud of smoke covers Delhi, which becomes a gas chamber, Kejriwal said.
“The Centre, and governments in Punjab and Haryana are making their efforts to prevent crop burning and the Delhi government will extend all possible help to them,” he said.
Asserting the efficacy of the odd-even scheme, he said studies have shown that it could reduce air pollution by 10-13 per cent.
“We will utilise our experiences of implementation of odd-even schemes twice in the past in Delhi,” Kejriwal said when asked about overcharging by cab aggregators after the scheme is implemented.