Accepting that the odd-even scheme in January didn’t reduce pollution levels “as much as expected”, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said it, however, significantly reduced traffic congestion.
“The roads were cleared and people liked it very much,” he said in reply to a question by a girl student of Sarvodaya Balika Vidyala.
The Chief Minister, along with deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Transport minister Gopal Rai, administered an oath to the school girls pledging to fight air pollution in the city.
The odd-even scheme was implemented on an experimental basis from January 1 to January 15 in view of high air pollution in the Capital. The second phase of the scheme will commence on April 15.
Mr. Kejriwal said that a debate is going on regarding how much pollution was lowered during the trial of the scheme in January and the estimates vary. “Fortune magazine says it dropped by 13 per cent, others say it lowered by 55 per cent. Pollution levels dropped due to odd-even scheme.”
Referring to media reports during the first phase of the scheme that showed “increase” in pollution, the CM said: “I was watching an interview of a child who asked how could pollution increase when the number of vehicles on the roads of Delhi had reduced”.
Claiming that the sale of petrol and diesel had gone down by 40 per cent during the January trial, he added it was “natural” that pollution reduced as less fuel was consumed.
“We are considering implementation of the scheme for 15 days every month, although we have not decided it, which will help in lowering pollution and provide big relief from congestion,” said the CM.
The government is taking other measures to check air pollution including introduction of luxury buses with increased frequency to improvise public transport and vacuum cleaning of the roads, he said.
“In the next three months, we will ensure vacuum cleaning of over 1,000 kms of roads in the city,” he said.
Praising the school children for playing a “very important” role in the success the scheme in January, the Chief Minister asked them to convince their parents, friends and neighbours as well as violators on the roads to follow it during the second phase.
The government has exempted vehicles carrying children in school uniform this time, which can pose a problem for parents.
Mr Kejriwal suggested car-pooling with neighbours: “We gave it a lot of thought but no solution could be found. It will cause some problems but vehicles could be shared with neighbours.”