Authorities in India’s capital New Delhi will enforce strict restrictions on the use of private cars from November 4 to 15 to curb pollution in an effort to help improve air quality that tends to deteriorate sharply in winter months.
Private vehicles will only be allowed to use roads on alternate days during the period, Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi chief minister, told a news conference on Friday.
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According to the plan, which was first introduced in 2016, private vehicles will be allowed on the roads only on alternate days, depending on whether their license plates bear an even or an odd number.
The city also aims to introduce 1,000 electric buses, Kejriwal said, as well as policies to promote other electric vehicles.
New Delhi is the world’s most polluted capital city, according to several studies, plagued by vehicular and industrial emissions, dust from construction sites, and smoke from the burning of rubbish and crop residue in northern India.
“Pollution levels have come down in Delhi recently, and we are determined and committed to bringing them down further and that is why we have decided to introduce these steps,” Kejriwal said.
The Delhi state government has identified “pollution hot spots” it can target to help improve air quality, he said.
The Delhi government would also distribute free face masks in the city, he said, as part of efforts to encourage people to reduce their exposure to polluted air.
As winter approaches each year, wind speeds tend to drop after the monsoon season that ends in September, meaning smog and other pollutants hang in the air. The problem is exacerbated as people let off fireworks to celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali in late October or early November.
North Indian cities, including New Delhi, top the list of places with the worst air in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO database of more than 2,600 cities shows that 14 of the 18 most polluted cities on the planet are in northern India, based on the amount of particulate matter under 2.5 micrograms in size found in every cubic metre of air.