In view of mounting levels of air pollution in Delhi and the adjoining national capital region (NCR), the Haryana government has now decided to impose from next week an odd-even rule in four districts – Gurugram, Faridabad, Sonipat, and Jhajjar. In addition to this, the state government has also decided to extend the work-from-home option till November 22 for employees in 14 districts, including Bhiwani, Charkhi, Faridabad, Gurugram, Jhajjar, Jind, Karnal, Nuh, Mehendragarh, Sonipat, Rohtak, Rewari, and Palwal.
The odd-even traffic rule, first instituted in India by the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi, is a modified version of the odd-even rationing system popularised in the US as part of a response to the second gasoline crisis in 1979. Under the odd-even scheme in India, alternate days are marked for vehicles with their number plates ending in odd and even numbers, respectively. Vehicles with registration numbers ending in odd numbers are allowed on the roads on odd days and even-numbered vehicles are allowed on even days.
By implementing the scheme, the Haryana government hopes to see a drop in pollution levels and a reduction in road congestion. Moreover, keeping in view the toxic haze in the NCR air, an extension of the work-from-home option has also been deemed suitable.
The worsening air quality in the national capital, Delhi, has, in the meanwhile, continued to rise to alarming levels. According to doctors, there has been a spike in chronic respiratory conditions – such as asthma among children. Moreover, prolonged exposure to deadly pollutants could seriously impair the cognitive development of children, health professionals added.
Pollution has been hitting dangerous levels across New Delhi and other parts of northern India this month. On most days, the Air Quality Index (AQI) has stayed above 451 on a scale of 500, indicating “very poor” and “severe” conditions that affect even healthy people and seriously impact those with existing diseases, according to the federal pollution control board’s guidance.