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As Delhi grapples with severe air pollution, the Delhi government has taken decisive actions to mitigate the crisis. In response to the persistently “severe” air quality, the government has directed schools to suspend physical classes, with the exception of classes 10 and 12, until November 10. Additionally, the iconic odd-even scheme will make a comeback from November 13 to November 20.
Delhi Air Pollution: ODD Even Scheme
Environment Minister Gopal Rai explained the mechanics of the odd-even scheme: on odd dates, vehicles with registration numbers ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 will be allowed to ply the roads, while on even dates, vehicles with registration numbers ending in 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8 will be permitted. The reintroduction of this scheme is a familiar strategy employed to combat vehicular pollution, which was first introduced by the AAP government in 2016.
The decision to reimplement the odd-even scheme is based on predictions of worsening air quality following the Diwali celebrations. Rai disclosed this information during a press conference, emphasizing that further decisions regarding the scheme’s duration would be contingent on pollution levels during its one-week implementation.
Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) Stage IV
A crucial aspect of this decision is the “Graded Response Action Plan” (GRAP) Stage IV, also known as the “severe plus” category, which was initiated on Sunday to combat the deteriorating air quality. This is the same GRAP that prompted the reintroduction of the odd-even scheme. The Delhi government is employing a multi-faceted approach to address the pollution crisis, including the deployment of mobile anti-smog guns, road sweeping machines, and water sprinklers.
Further measures activated under GRAP Stage IV include a ban on Delhi-registered diesel medium and heavy goods vehicles, with exceptions made for those providing essential services. Additionally, trucks that aren’t CNG/electric vehicles and not carrying essentials are barred from entering the city. Light commercial vehicles registered outside Delhi, unless they are electric/CNG/BS-VI diesel vehicles providing essential services, are also prohibited from entering the city. Moreover, all construction and demolition activities, including linear projects like highways and roads, are temporarily banned to curb the pollution.
The modalities for implementing the odd-even scheme are set to be discussed in a meeting on Tuesday. Among the topics of discussion, one significant point is the potential extension of the scheme beyond the initial November 13-20 period.
In the midst of the ongoing Delhi Air Pollution crisis, NASA’s Worldview portal has captured a troubling increase in farm fires over the weekend of November 4 and 5. These fires, primarily originating from Punjab, have a substantial impact on the deteriorating air quality in the national capital. Paddy straw burning in Punjab and Haryana is a major contributor to the alarming surge in air pollution levels in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh during the months of October and November. Environmentalists have repeatedly emphasized the urgency of addressing this issue to mitigate the pollution crisis.
Mumbai Air Pollution: Government Issued Health Advisory
Meanwhile, in Mumbai, the state government has also taken note of the increasing air pollution levels. Following in the footsteps of Delhi’s implementation of GRAP Stage IV, the Maharashtra government issued a health advisory in response to the rising pollution levels. As of November 6, Mumbai’s air quality has deteriorated to the point of being categorized as “poor,” with an Air Quality Index (AQI) reading of 271. The advisory is intended to guide vulnerable populations, such as children under five, pregnant women, and individuals with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular diseases, in taking necessary precautions to safeguard their health.
In conclusion, the Delhi government’s reintroduction of the odd-even scheme and the suspension of physical classes in schools signal a proactive response to the pressing issue of air pollution. These measures, coupled with ongoing efforts to address farm fires in Punjab and similar actions in Mumbai, underscore the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to combat air pollution in major urban areas across India. The collective efforts of government and citizens are essential to improve air quality and protect public health.
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