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Odd-even plan to come back the moment Delhi’s pollution levels hit ‘severe’

The Capital has been struggling to clean up its air that contains a toxic cocktail of dust, smoke and gases from vehicle and factory exhausts.

Breathe delhi Updated: Jan 17, 2017 15:29 IST
Soumya Pillai and Sweta Goswami
Soumya Pillai and Sweta Goswami
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Odd-even traffic plan,Odd-even,Delhi traffic
The national capital has been struggling to clean up its air that contains a toxic cocktail of dust, smoke and gases from vehicle and factory exhausts.(Burhaan Kinu / HT File Photo )

The Capital can expect a rerun of the odd-even car restriction the next time pollution levels cross the “severe” mark of 300 micrograms of PM2.5, micro particles of dust known to cause lung and respiratory diseases. The radical formula was tried before for two fortnights last January and April, restricting vehicles from roads on odd and even dates based on the last number of their licence plates.

The government has plans for another round of road rationing to reduce toxic levels in the city of above 20 million, which ranks among the world’s top cities with foul air on a WHO list. The Capital has been struggling to clean up its air that contains a toxic cocktail of dust, smoke and gases from vehicle and factory exhausts.

Authorities were forced to draw up and implement emergency measures after pollution levels shot up post-Diwali to reach a 20-year high. A Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) approved a graded response action plan, which was notified last Friday.

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The Centre ordered implementation of the plan, which says the Delhi government will have to apply the odd-even formula within 48 hours of pollution levels hitting the “severe” mark in the city and rest of the national capital region.

Besides, parking charges will be hiked three to four times, power plants will have to comply with standard emission norms, and alerts will have to be sent out to people. Brick kilns, industries and diesel generator sets will be banned till the air quality returns to acceptable levels.

Vehicle and factory exhaust is considered a major source of pollution. The city has more than 3 million private cars and above 6 million two-wheelers, official data shows.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has split the graded response plan into “moderate and poor” with an average PM2.5 level above 150, and “very poor and severe” in which PM2.5 is above 300. Delhi’s transport department said it was ready for the odd-even challenge.

http://airquality.hindustantimes.com/?city=Delhi

“The department already has an action plan to be followed under the graded response system. The priority would be to increase bus frequency and engaging public vehicles,” said KK Dahiya, special commissioner with the department.

Sunita Narain, a member of the EPCA, said state-based task forces would be formed to monitor the hourly pollution levels, assess forecast, and send detailed report to the court-appointed panel. “Our effort will be to not let pollution reach emergency levels.”

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First Published: Jan 16, 2017 23:38 IST