Delhi Government announced vehicle rationing scheme to curb air pollution

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Who: Vehicle Rationing Scheme
What: Announced by Delhi Government
When: 4 December 2015
Why: To curb air pollution

Delhi Government on 4 December 2015 announced vehicle rationing scheme to curb air pollution in the city. A decision in this regard was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The primary objective of the initiative is to halve the vehicular population in the city and thereby to bring pollution levels under control.

In the first phase of the scheme, vehicles with odd and even number plates would be allowed to run on alternate days between 1 January and 15 January 2016 in the capital city.

While the odd-numbered vehicles will ply on odd dates, the even-numbered vehicles would ply on even dates.

The rule will be enforced between 8am and 8pm only and there will be no restrictions on Sundays.

However, emergency vehicles such as ambulances were excluded from this restriction.

And, final modalities regarding implementation of the scheme will be declared in the last week of December 2015.

Other related decisions of Delhi Government

• Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) fleet will be augmented to increase the frequency. And, in addition, school buses that operate for a limited period of the day will be hired for public transportation purposes.
• Cut-off date for implementing Euro-VI emission norms for Delhi was advanced to 1 January 2017 instead of the 1 January 2019 deadline at the national level.
• Delhi Metro will be requested to extend its services till the late evening.
• Public Works Department (PWD) will begin vacuum cleaning of the dust from the roads in Delhi from 1 April 2016.
• Swachh Bharat App of Delhi government will be modified to include crowd-source complaints regarding visibly polluting vehicles, burning of bio-mass, garbage, leaves, etc.
• Extensive horticulture work will be undertaken by the PWD to cover open areas with greenery.
• The government asked Badarpur and Rajghat Thermal Power Plants to close down.
• Outside trucks entering Delhi that do not adhere to Delhi’s air pollution norms will be penalised.
• Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) will set up pollution check facilities at 200 places across the city to check for pollution levels.
• Volunteers will be recruited by the government to bring awareness about the initiative and sensitize citizens about threatening pollution levels in city

Why Delhi Government took this decision?

The decision of the government to impose vehicle rationing was prompted by an observation of Delhi High Court on 3 December 2015 which termed that living in Delhi was akin to living in a gas chamber.

A study released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2014 announced that Delhi as the most polluted city in the world and needed corrective measures on a priority basis.

For pollution in Delhi, vehicular traffic is the most prominent and a well reported cause. As per an estimate, there are around 87 lakh vehicles in the city and half of them hit the roads every day.

Against this backdrop, the vehicle rationing initiative can be termed as novel, at least in India, and a much needed measure to protect health of Delhi citizens.

Global experience

Road space rationing based on license numbers has been implemented in cities such as Athens (1982), Santiago, Chile (1986 and extended 2001), México City (1989), Metro Manila (1995), Sao Paulo (1997), Bogota, Colombia (1998), La Paz, Bolivia (2003), San Jose and Costa Rica (2005).

Countrywide restrictions are in place in Honduras and Quito and Ecuador since 2008 and 2010 respectively.

Beijing also imposed temporary restrictions during 2008 Olympics and in December 2015 as part of smog mitigation measures which showed positive results.