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Delhi restricts local traffic in attempt to reduce air pollution

Smog in Delhi, Nov 2017 (photo: Sumitmpsd)Smog in Delhi, Nov 2017 (photo: Sumitmpsd)The authorities in India's capital, Delhi, have started restricting private vehicles using the city's roads, in an attempt to lower the city's dangerous air pollution levels. The “odd-even” scheme comes into operation from Monday 4th November and will last for two weeks. It means that private vehicles with odd-number licence plates are allowed to drive only on odd dates, while those with even-numbered plates can drive only on even-numbered dates. The measure comes as Delhi's air pollution levels reach a three-year high, causing schools to close and planes to be diverted away from the city due to poor visibility. The Central Pollution Control Board’s air quality index for Delhi has reached an average of 436—about nine times the recommended maximum (in some areas the index exceeded 900). This level is considered to be “severe”.

Traffic jam in Delhi (photo: NOMAD)Traffic jam in Delhi (photo: NOMAD)Almost 1.2 million registered vehicles in Delhi will be off-road every day during the two-week restrictions. Traffic police officers, wearing protective masks, signal any cars not following the temporary rule to stop. The scheme was put in place before in 2016, but many doubt whether it was a success.

The air quality in Delhi, is, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) survey of 1600 world cities, the worst of any city. The index is generally Moderate (101-200) level between January to September. It deteriorates to Very Poor (301-400), Severe (401-500) or Hazardous (500+) levels between October to December. 

Smog in Delhi, Dec 2017 (Sumita Roy Dutta) Smog in Delhi, Dec 2017 (Sumita Roy Dutta)  

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