Delhi starts even-odd number rule for cars against pollution

New Delhi, world’s most polluted city, starts new rationing rule for cars to clear air

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

An Indian traffic policeman (R) stands with Delhi civil defence personnel at a traffic intersection in New Delhi, India, January 1, 2016

Indian capital New Delhi started on Friday applying a plan to clean the air of the world’s most polluted city.

According to the plan, cars will be allowed on the roads in turn between January 1 and 15.

The first day started with the odd numbered plated cars, and it will be in rotation between even and odd numbers except for Sundays.

The exceptions for the rule will be top politicians, judges, police and prison officials, lonely women drivers, sick people and two-wheelers.

Schools will also be closed for the 15-day-period so that shuttles can be used to take commuters to work.

On Friday, the average PM2.5 levels for New Delhi were over 297, almost 5 times higher than the Indian norm of 60 and almost 15 times over the World Health Organization standard of 20.

PM2.5 levels is a method used by WHO meaning the measurement of fine particulate matter of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter.

Traffic police and volunteers took to the streets to apply the plan, and dozens of children wear smog-masks and hold banners urging drivers to comply.

Most drivers adhered to the rule on its first day.

The city's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted “Delhi has done it!”

"I would have expected to catch at least dozens in the first half an hour, but surprisingly most people are obeying," said Ankit Kumar, a traffic policeman.

In the first day of application, most of the time the police did not apply the $30 fine that was announced earlier.

The programme will be truly tested on Monday when New Year holiday ends.

According to a 2014 WHO survey, Delhi was the most polluted city among over 1,600 cities around the world, partly because of the 8.5 million vehicles on its roads.

The air pollution above the recommended WHO levels put people at additional risk of serious, long-term health problems.

The tiny, inhalable particles within the air are small enough to penetrate deep into lungs and cause maximum damage including lung cancer.

Pollution cutting plans will also include shutting some coal-fired power plants and vacuuming roads to reduce dust.

India's Supreme Court has recently ordered a temporary ban on large new diesel cars in Delhi and doubled diesel trucks’ taxes.

TRTWorld and agencies