The city of Delhi in India is taking measures to address rising pollution levels by restricting the use of vehicles next week. Despite efforts to mitigate the issue, air quality in the capital has remained dangerously unsafe for three consecutive days. New Delhi is consistently ranked as one of the world’s most polluted cities, especially prior to winter when calm winds and low temperatures trap pollutants from various sources such as vehicles, industries, construction dust, and crop residue burning in nearby fields.
On Monday, a thick smog covered the federal secretariat and president’s palace in the city center, while visibility in other areas was also compromised. Due to growing public outrage over hazardous air quality, primary schools in the city will remain closed until November 10th. In response, the local government announced that it will impose the “odd-even” vehicle rule from November 13-20 to mitigate pollution levels, which are expected to rise after the Hindu festival of Diwali on November 12th, when firecrackers are often set off despite a ban.
Under the odd-even rule, vehicles with odd registration numbers will be allowed on the road on odd dates, while vehicles with even numbers will be allowed on alternate days. However, experts have noted that this rule, which has been imposed multiple times with some variations since 2016, has been more effective in de-congesting roads and less effective in reducing pollution.
Gopal Rai, the local environment minister, announced that due to the rising pollution, odd-even will be imposed in Delhi. A meeting will be held with the police and transport department on Tuesday to determine the implementation of the plan. According to a real-time compilation by Swiss group IQAir, air quality was “severe” for the third consecutive day in the city on Monday, making it the second most polluted city in the world, behind Lahore in Pakistan.
Despite these measures, a cricket World Cup match involving Sri Lanka and Bangladesh went ahead in the city on Monday, with organizers installing air purifiers in the players’ dressing rooms and using water sprinklers to reduce pollutants in the air. In addition to curbs on vehicles, there is also a ban on construction work for public projects in the national capital region, and restrictions on the entry of trucks and heavy vehicles in Delhi, imposed by a federal pollution control watchdog on Sunday.
According to an analysis of 25 research studies published in Down To Earth magazine on Sunday, poor air quality has been linked to low birth weight, preterm delivery, stillbirth, developmental delay, restricted growth in children, and even death.