The Delhi government on Wednesday said that the odd-even plan will be implemented in the national capital territory only after its review by the Supreme Court, reported PTI.

The odd-even rule allows vehicles with odd-numbered licence plates on the road on dates with odd numbers and those with even-numbered plates on others.

On Monday, the Aam Aadmi Party government announced that the rule would be enforced from November 13 to November 20 to curb air pollution.

However, a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia on Tuesday questioned the plan’s efficacy and termed it “all optics”, reported Live Law.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said that the state government would submit to the Supreme Court the findings of two studies conducted by the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago and the Delhi Technical University to determine the scheme’s effectiveness.

An analysis by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago and the Evidence for Policy Design in 2016 showed that Delhi saw a 14% to 16% reduction in PM2.5 levels during the hours the odd-even rule remained in force in January that year. However, there was no reduction in pollution when the scheme was brought back in April that year.

Particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (or about a ten-thousandth of an inch) is particularly dangerous to human health. Such particles are small enough to travel deep into the respiratory system, potentially hurting lung function. The National Ambient Air Quality Standards require PM 2.5 concentration be less than 60 micrograms per cubic metre of air, in any given 24 hour period.

Rai on Wednesday announced that the entry of app-based taxis from other states into Delhi will be halted as air quality in the capital remained unsafe, reported The Indian Express. “The court has said that app-based taxis coming from other states should be banned,” said the minister. “The transport department will issue a detailed order on the ban.”

Delhi’s air quality index went up to 421 early Wednesday morning. A reading of above 400 falls under the “severe” category and can affect healthy people as well as seriously impact those with existing illnesses.

At 5.30 pm, the index stood at 398, according to real-time figures from the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ SAFAR, or System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research.

Also read: China slashed its air pollution levels in a decade – can India replicate its model?

Early winter break in schools

As the city was wrapped in a thick layer of toxic haze, the Delhi Directorate of Education announced that schools will close for a winter break from November 9 to November 18.

“In the wake of implementation of GRAP-IV [Graded Response Action Plan’s stage 4] measures due to severe air quality prevailing in Delhi and seeing that no respite from such adverse weather conditions in the near future is predicted by the IMD [India Meteorological Department], the winter break for the session 2023-24 is ordered to be preponed so that schools can be totally closed and both children and teachers can stay at home,” read a circular.

Air quality plunges in the winter months in Delhi, which is often ranked one of the world’s most polluted cities. Stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, along with falling temperatures, low wind speed and emissions from industries and coal-fired plants contributes to the crisis in the region.