Easing the restrictions that the odd-even scheme would entail, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday (October 17), said that vehicles carrying children in school uniforms will be exempted from the scheme in New Delhi.
These vehicles, however, need not comply with the scheme only during school-timings. Two wheelers are also exempt from the scheme with regard to dropping children at school.
But this exemption raised questions on what would happen to those who would be returning after dropping their children at school. When asked about it, Kejriwal gave a vague reply and added that he would give more details regarding the restrictions later.
The odd-even scheme is scheduled to be implemented between November 4-15 to tackle air pollution.
Vehicles having odd and even numbers as the last digit on their number plates would be allowed to operate on alternate days when the quality of air went down.
The scheme will be applicable from 8 am to 8 pm, except on Sundays. Violation of the odd-even scheme will incur a fine of ₹4,000, which has been increased from ₹2,000.
The scheme is one of the emergency measures taken by the New Delhi government to deal with air pollution under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). Studies showed that the odd-even scheme helped reduce air pollution by 10 per cent to 13 per cent.
The scheme, however, has only been limited to four-wheeler vehicles, even though there have been demands to bring two-wheelers under its purview.
Kejriwal said that the government’s seven-point action plan to combat air pollution had to be implemented mainly because of crop burning and vehicular pollution in the city. Some of the measures introduced to reduce air pollution were afforestation, mechanized sweeping of roads, distribution of masks, and provision of special attention to the 12 spots in Delhi that are most prone to air pollution.
“We have formed 16 vigilance teams to check construction sites day and night and monitor burning of waste,” Kejriwal told reporters.
A few leaders will be exempt from following the odd-even scheme. These leaders include the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Governors, Chief Justice of India, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Union Ministers, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha Leaders of Opposition, Vehicles of Chief Ministers of States & Union Territories. However, the Chief Minister of Delhi and other ministers in Delhi will not be exempted.
Emergency, defence, law enforcement, embassy, and paramilitary vehicles will also be exempted, the chief minister said. The government had earlier announced that vehicles driven by or carrying women, and those carrying physically disabled persons will be exempted.
Private CNG vehicles will be banned during the scheme, which will also cover all non-goods vehicles entering Delhi from other states.
New Delhi is one of the cities with the worst air quality in the world, and residents in the city have been facing numerous respiratory issues due to the presence of smog during winter.
Adding to that, New Delhi’s air quality has been rapidly deteriorating over the past few days.
In November last year, just after the air quality in Delhi saw visible improvement after Diwali, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) recommended the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to either implement the odd-even scheme or impose a complete ban on non-CNG private vehicles if the air pollution level in Delhi increased again.