New Delhi puts odd-even driving rule to test

New Delhi puts odd-even driving rule to test
Smog hangs over buildings in the vicinity of New Delhi in December.
PHOTO: Nikkei Asian Review

NEW DELHI - A city-wide experiment to reduce vehicles on roads in an attempt to tackle air pollution, which is seen as being worse than in China, started here on New Year's Day.

The Delhi government intends to verify both advantages and disadvantages of the new policy after the trial period ends on Jan. 15, with the aim to possibly continue it. However, it is uncertain whether this approach will be successful when considering its many exemptions.

On Dec. 24, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal officially announced the odd-even policy, which keeps four-wheeled passenger vehicles off the roads based on the day and the last digit of the registration plate. With this rule, for example, cars with registration numbers ending in odd numbers can be driven on roads in the city on only odd dates, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., excluding Sundays. Violators are subject to a fine of 2,000 rupees (S$46.45).

The move comes after smog got worse in the morning and evening peak hours last month in New Delhi, and which made locals, including this writer, develop a severe cough with phlegm and a runny nose. Hospitals in the city saw a surge in the number of visitors due to air pollution-related health problems.

Local newspapers provide charts on a daily basis comparing the levels of air pollution in New Delhi with those in Beijing. The Chinese capital has been drawing global attention due to its poor air quality. The fact is that the level of air pollution in New Delhi is sometimes more than double that of Beijing.

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