Delhi: Return of odd-even looms
As Delhi continues its worst environmental crisis, government had called out emergency meeting on Sunday November 6 to discuss the options available for solving the crisis. One of the solutions under consideration is Delhi government’s Odd-even formula.
Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the government was preparing for another round of the odd-even plan, an emergency measure first implemented in the city in January that limited the use of private cars. According to the scheme, those with odd-numbered plates could only be brought out on odd dates and those with an even number as the last digit on even days. He added that it would help in keeping traffic emissions in check.
“Concerned departments are directed to start making preparations for the odd-even scheme to keep traffic emissions in check. We will make an assessment in the next few days and implement it, if need be,” the Chief Minister said.
Reportedly, Kejriwal described the city as a Gas chamber on Saturday, while pointing the accusing finger at burning of farm residue in Punjab and Haryana for the worst smog to hit Delhi in almost two decades.
The government is trying to find solutions to the smog that has spread across the national capital, and has formulated plans to solve the emergency-like situation in environment. In an attempt to clear the heavy layer of dust hanging over the city, the government had proposed artificial rain through cloud seeding and sought the Centre’s help, Kejriwal said.
The government has also announced that schools to remain closed for three days and has suspended five-day ban on all construction and demolition in the city. “We never anticipated air pollution would reach such alarming levels. We are not solely blaming crop burning,” said the chief minister.
He announced a five-day ban on all construction and demolition in the city. Dust arising out of these activities is one of the big reasons for the rise in PM 2.5 levels. The tiny dust particles can lodge deep in lungs and blood tissues, triggering respiratory and cardiac problems, he said. He advised the public to stay at home as much as they can and work from home.
The coal-fired Badarpur plant will be shut down for 10 days and fly ash, or the fine dust produced in coal burning, will not be transported out of the plant during the period. The fly ash, used in making bricks, lying at the plant site would be sprinkled with water so it doesn’t disperse in the air, he added.
Water sprinkling of roads will begin Monday and vacuum cleaning from November 10. Diesel generators also face a 10-day ban except at hospitals and in emergency situations.
Reportedly, most places in south, central and north Delhi recorded “severe” air quality with PM 2.5 levels between 12 and 15 times the safe limit. Punjabi Bagh in west Delhi and Anand Vihar in east Delhi were among the most polluted, Hindustan Times reported.
The Centre and the city lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung, too, have called meetings on Monday to find ways to clear the city’s toxic air that poses a health risk to millions of people. The smog is so thick that it has left a bitter taste in the mouth and eyes watering. Hospitals are reporting a rise in cases of respiratory distress, with elderly and children the worst hit.