Delhi odd-even scheme: The odd-even vehicle rationing scheme aimed at fighting the severe air pollution in Delhi kicked in on Monday. The scheme, which will continue till November 15, witnessed the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) taking on each other over the necessity of such a move. Leaders from rivals parties were involved in their own ‘antics’ to push their views.
While Deputy Delhi CM Manish Sisodia rode a bicycle to work, CM Arvind Kejriwal shared an even-numbered car with cabinet colleagues Gopal Rai and Satyender Jain.
On the other hand, BJP leader Vijay Goel took out his odd-numbered Toyota Fortuner in protest as he described the odd-even scheme as a ‘gimmick’. "This scheme is just a gimmick, they (the Delhi government) themselves say pollution is due to stubble burning, then how does this scheme help? I am ready to pay the fine for violation," Goel told reporters.
The Delhi government has blamed stubble burning by farmers in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana behind the national capital region turning into a ‘gas chamber’.
"North India has been engulfed in smoke caused by stubble burning, right now we can’t do anything about that, but if we follow the scheme for next 10 days, it will give some relief. It is for everybody’s benefit," Sisodia said.
As air pollution soared to hazardous levels in Delhi and adjoining areas, the political blame game also galored. Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar lashed out at the AAP government and asked whether it has been following the directives issued by the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) to curb air pollution the city.
"Pollution is genuine problem. When I became the environment minister, I called a meeting of all five states regarding the issue. Seven to eight such meetings have already been held. Another one will happen soon. The Delhi government must check out the directions given by CPCB regarding pollution and should tell how much has it followed," Javadekar said.
The Delhi government had shut all schools on Friday after the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority declared a "public health emergency". Schools have also been closed in Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Gurgaon.