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Odd news

Roundup: Local gov't in Indian capital city scraps odd

by Peerzada Arshad Hamid

NEW DELHI, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- The local government in Indian capital of New Delhi on Saturday cancelled its plan to implement odd-even car rationing formula from Monday aimed at reducing the blanket of smog enveloping the city and outskirts, officials said.

The local government's decision was announced after a cabinet meeting that followed hours after India's environmental court, National Green Tribunal (NGT), granted a conditional permission to the authorities for the scheme.

The green panel banned all exemptions granted under the Odd-Even scheme including two-wheelers, government officials and women drivers.

The court told the government the odd-even formula should come into effect every time the particulate matter (PM) 10 exceeds the level of 500 and PM 2.5 rises above 300.

However, Delhi transport minister Kailash Gahlot said the Delhi government could not compromise on the safety of women. The government, he added, does not have enough public transport alternatives to accommodate over 6 million two-wheelers.

"At the moment we are calling it off. We will again approach the NGT and will ask them to allow exemptions to women and two-wheelers," Gahlot told media. "On Monday, the government will file an appeal in the Green Court to reconsider its no exemption for women and two-wheelers."

Under the arrangement, private cars with odd registration numbers are allowed to run on odd dates while even-numbered cars will ply on even dates.

The decision to impose the formula was made in wake of rising air pollution levels in the national capital.

Deadly smog has covered the city for the last six days.

Earlier, NGT on Friday asked the Delhi government to submit data or studies on the basis of which it has planned to introduce the odd-even car rationing formula from next week.

Since Tuesday morning, Delhi was covered with thick smog, following which health officials issued advisory to elderly and children to avoid venturing out.

All schools in Delhi, adjoining areas and Punjab were closed until Sunday in view of the rising pollution.

The entry of trucks except those carrying essentials has been banned in the national capital, besides work on civil construction sites was suspended.

The deadly smog chocks air causing breathlessness and lung difficulties, besides badly affecting the visibility.

Authorities have asked citizens to avoid burning dry leaves, crop residue in and around the city.

India's federal government, meanwhile, has issued an advisory to the state governments to create awareness among the farmers about the harmful effects of straw burning.

The directive was issued by agriculture ministry in wake of the increasing levels of pollution in New Delhi.

Delhi is considered to be the most polluted city in the world. Last year the city's high court described the capital as "gas chamber."

Air pollution is a leading cause of premature death in India. Pollution in Delhi gets aggravated during winter months. Ahead of winters people burn agricultural waste to clear cropland, which contributes to the choking of already polluted air.

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