New Delhi implements vehicle restrictions due to pollution

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New Delhi is blanketed in acrid smog.

NEW DELHI, India, Nov 6, (Agencies): New Delhi has announced measures to alleviate the toxic smog crisis by restricting the use of private vehicles for a week. The Indian capital, home to 30 million residents, grapples with noxious smog as winter approaches, primarily attributed to crop residue burning in neighboring agricultural regions.

Delhi consistently ranks as one of the world’s most polluted cities, with its smog linked to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths annually. Government-led initiatives have struggled to combat India’s severe air quality issue, with a 2017 US study revealing that it prematurely claims one million lives each year in the country.

Gopal Rai, Delhi’s Environment Minister, disclosed that a road-rationing scheme would be implemented for one week starting from the Monday following Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights when fireworks contribute to the pollution problem. The scheme will allow vehicles with odd and even number plates to travel on alternate days during this period. Rai stated, “The decision has been taken as after Diwali, pollution may rise further.” The situation will be reviewed after November 20.

On Monday, levels of the most harmful PM2.5 particles, which are so minuscule that they can enter the bloodstream, reached 184 micrograms per cubic meter, 12 times higher than the daily maximum recommended by the World Health Organization. Despite this dire air quality, cricketers from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka played a World Cup match in the afternoon.

This road restriction scheme has been previously implemented in the capital in 2016, 2017, and 2019. While vehicle emissions are a significant contributor to Delhi’s air pollution, a 2018 study by Indian government scientists suggested that the odd-even rule did not effectively reduce emissions and may have disrupted traffic patterns, possibly increasing emissions.

Rai also announced the closure of schools in the city until Nov 11 and a ban on construction activities as part of the efforts to combat the worsening air quality.

This news has been read 581 times!

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