As toxic air continues to choke Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said a final call on extending the odd-even scheme would be taken on Monday.
Addressing a press conference here on Friday (November 15), the chief minister said the government does not want people to undergo unnecessary inconvenience.
“Air quality is predicted to improve over the next two-three days. We are keeping an eye on the situation. If it improves, there will be no need for (extending) odd-even. A final call will be taken on Monday morning,” he said. The road-rationing scheme, rolled out on November 4, ends on Friday.
The government had lifted the restrictions on Monday and Tuesday on the occasion of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th birth anniversary and said that the road rationing scheme would be extended if needed.
Asked if odd-even proved effective, Kejriwal said the scheme is a measure to tackle local sources of pollution such as dust, chimney and vehicular emissions.
“On average, 30 lakh cars ply on Delhi’s roads every day. It certainly helps if the number is reduced to half… But the primary reason for the spike in pollution (in winters) is stubble burning in neighbouring states,” he said, adding NASAs satellite imagery also establishes this.
He reiterated that Delhi’s air quality oscillated between good and satisfactory categories till October 9 and local factors accounted for an AQI of 70-130 only. “The rest is because of stubble burning,” he said. Kejriwal said Haryana has recorded a slight decline but Punjab has seen a massive jump in the number of farm fires.
He thanked the people of Delhi for making the odd-even scheme “successful”. “Authorities issued 250-300 challans every day, which is very less considering the population,” he said.
The air quality index stood at 465 at 1.30 pm on Friday, as a thick layer of toxic smog continued to linger over Delhi for the fourth consecutive day.
On Thursday, a number of children had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention to mitigate the air pollution crisis which has led to a health emergency-like situation. On Friday, the air quality index of the national capital read 466 at 11.30 am.
(With inputs from agencies)