Delhi 'odd-even' anti-pollution car rationing starts again

Cars and autorickshaws move through the central Connaught Place area in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015. Image copyright AP
Image caption Private cars with number plates ending in even and odd numbers will be allowed on alternate days

The Indian capital, Delhi, has begun a second round of car rationing, aimed at curbing high pollution levels.

Private cars with even and odd number plates would only be allowed on alternate days from 15 to 30 April, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.

A fortnight-long trial from 1 January took more than a third of the city's three million private cars off the road, easing congestion.

However, it is not clear whether it helped to bring down pollution.

The local government has said that the second phase of the "odd-even plan" would be "decisive" to ascertain its success as a pollution control measure and on whether it would be repeated every month.

Friday is a public holiday so traffic on the city roads is sparse.

The second phase of the scheme will be enforced by 2,000 traffic personnel, 580 enforcement officials and more than 5,000 civil defence volunteers.

Those who violate the scheme will be fined 2,000 rupees (£21;$30) and the government has appointed a special task force to look into complaints of violations.

Like the last time, emergency vehicles like ambulances, police cars, fire engines and taxis are exempt from the campaign.

Single women and two-wheelers are also allowed to drive every day.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Several thousand volunteers checked cars at intersections and violators were fined during the trial in January

Although the trial in January helped decongest traffic-choked streets, there is no clarity on whether it helped curb pollution.

Authorities said there was "more than 50% drop in air pollution primarily caused by vehicular traffic".

But the state-run System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research showed levels of PM 2.5 particulates - the most hazardous to health - hovering between "very poor" and "severe" and well above the World Health Organisation's safe limit.

Correspondents say that during the trial in January, most drivers followed the restrictions and viewed the drive favourably.

Delhi has 8.5 million vehicles and with car sales soaring in India, 1,400 extra cars are added to the capital's streets every day.

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