Air pollution in the north of India has “reached unbearable levels,” the capital Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says.
In many areas of Delhi air quality deteriorated into the “hazardous” category, with the potential to cause respiratory illnesses.
The air quality index, measuring levels of tiny particulate matter in the air, deteriorated to above 900, way over the 500-level that qualifies as “severe-plus”.
Aside from the harm it was doing to the lungs of some 40 million people living in the capital region, low visibility caused 37 flights diverted to other airports and more than 250 departures and 300 arrivals delayed on Sunday.
Roads looked deserted as large numbers of people stayed home, rather than expose themselves to the noxious atmosphere outside.
“Pollution has reached unbearable levels across north India,” Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s chief minister said in a message on twitter.
To control the deteriorating air quality in the national capital, the Delhi government’s odd-even scheme began from Monday, which allows only cars with odd or even number plates to drive on given days.
Private vehicles with registration numbers ending with an odd digit (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) will be allowed on roads on odd dates and those with an even digit (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) on even dates. The rules will also apply to the vehicles with registration numbers of other states.
Delhi government’s Environment, Revenue and Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot inspected the ongoing training and briefing of 5,000 civil defence volunteers across Delhi ahead of the beginning of the odd-even traffic scheme.
This is the 3rd round of the odd-even implementation by the Delhi government, aiming to curb domestic carbon emission.
The initiative is aimed at getting more vehicles off the road in an effort to curb air pollution.