The odd-even plan will not be implemented in the national capital territory from November 13 to November 20 as the air quality has improved due to rain, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said on Friday, reported PTI.

“The situation will be analysed again after Diwali,” the minister said.

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.

The Delhi government implements the scheme when the air quality plunges in the winter months in Delhi, which is often ranked one of the world’s most polluted cities. The average air quality index in the national capital remained above 400 places on most days in the past week.

On Monday, the Aam Aadmi Party government announced that the odd-even rule would be enforced after Diwali to curb air pollution.

However, a day later, a Supreme Court bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia questioned the plan’s efficacy and termed it “all optics”. Following this, the Delhi government said that the plan would be implemented in the national capital territory only after its review by the top court.

Meanwhile, due to rains on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, the air quality in the national capital improved to moderate and satisfactory categories at most places, reported the Hindustan Times. However, as of 4 pm on Friday, the air quality dropped to the poor category with an AQI of 279.

Supreme Court hearing on air pollution

At a hearing on Friday, the court referred to a real-time source apportionment study of pollution in Delhi conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, that states that the total share of pollution attributed to vehicles is 17%, reported Live Law.

“Out of this 17%, you are saying that there is a decline of 13%, that too in a specific window,” said Justice Kaul. “You do what you have to. We are not telling you what to do. You will have to take the call. Tomorrow, you will say we asked you to continue or not and that is why, there is pollution.”

The court also expressed reservations about forming a committee to curb pollution. “When we constitute committees, the responsibility shifts to these committees, rather than lie with the government,” said Justice Kaul.

Prepare hospitals, Centre tells states

Meanwhile, the Central government has asked Delhi and its neighbouring states to make necessary preparations to deal with rush of patients triggered by poor air quality that may worsen after the upcoming festivals, reported PTI.

In a letter to Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, Director General of Health Services Atul Goel said that the plunging air quality may lead to exacerbation of chronic illnesses of respiratory, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems.

“The consequences are graver for vulnerable populations such as children, pregnant women, older people, those with pre-existing illnesses, and those exposed due to their occupations such as those involved in traffic policing and municipality work,” he said.

Goel said that to deal with this, it is necessary to increase the allocation of beds and stock updates on medicines and equipment related to case management. The healthcare workers would also need capacity building and there is a requirement of enhanced public awareness, he added.