New Delhi: A day after the Delhi High Court observed that the current air pollution levels in the national capital were akin to "living in a gas chamber", the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, Friday, announced stringent measures to bring the situation under control.
The biggest of the proposed measures is that vehicles with odd and even registration numbers will be allowed on alternate days from January 01, 2016.
While exact details are awaited, it may mean that if your car's number is 8454, you may be allowed to take it out for a drive only on Monday, Wednesday, Friday every week.
Importantly, the restriction won't apply to public vehicles. And, vehicles registered in other states will also be covered under the ambit of the new law, at least for now.
"A city has to try something new. The measures is for the good of the people," Delhi Chief Secretary K.K. Sharma told media.
Asked how Chief Minister Kejriwal will come to office, Sharma said: "All the modalities have been worked out and there will be a review meeting on December 8."
He said the Delhi Transport Corporation will have to press more buses into services which could be done by hiring more vehicles.
Sharma said people have to be encouraged to use public transport, leaving the provisions of penalty unclear.
In another major plan, the Badarpur thermal power plant will be closed. Also, trucks will be allowed to enter the city only after 11 pm every night.
The urgent action was necessitated after quality of air in Delhi, going through one of its worst smog spells this season, largely fell in the 'very poor' category as per the National Air Quality Index. Area like Anand Vihar in East Delhi has even earned the most polluted place in India, if not the world.
The even-odd system proposed by the Kejirwal government is not a novel idea as such systems are already implemented in cities like Beijing and Singapore. London too has a similar system for vehicles entering Central London.
However, considering the poor public transport network in the national capital region – especially last mile connectivity – it remains to be seen whether the Delhi government is able to enforce the stringent new law.
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Experts said before taking this decision there was need to strengthen public transport first.
"Implementation of this policy is going to put extreme lot of pressure on both the government and the car drivers. When we do not have a strong public transport system, how can we expect everyone to adhere to this," Vikrant Tongad, an environmentalist working with Delhi-based Social Action for Forest and Environment, asked while speaking to IANS.
"What rubbish! Does the government even understand why most of the people use private vehicles? Mostly people use cars to cut the long duration in buses and also avoid the number of buses needed to change. The easier way to curb pollution was to increase public transport for all routes, which would certainly prevent people from using private vehicles," said Rajeev Snehi, a sales manager, who travels to Noida every day from south Delhi in his car.