Madrid on Thursday imposed restrictions on car usage in a bid to address rising air pollution levels, AFP reported. The Spanish city council’s statement said “vehicles with even-number registration plates will be allowed to drive around on even-number days and cars with odd-number registration plates on odd-number days”.

The curbs will be in force between 6.30 am and 9 pm. The initiative is similar to the programme launched by Delhi (last winter) and Parisian authorities. Exemptions to the curbs include mopeds, hybrid cars, vehicles carrying three people or more or used by disabled people, buses, taxis and emergency vehicles.

Air pollution levels rise often in Madrid triggering public health concerns. The ban on half the city’s cars is level three on a scale of four anti-pollution initiatives. The move by a left-leaning alliance was criticised by the Popular Party that governs the nation. Popular Party spokesperson Íñigo Henríquez de Luna said the ban was “ideological” and that citizens should be encouraged instead of punished to reduce pollution.

Internationally, such schemes have also been introduced by Beijing and Delhi, with mixed results. Athens began introducing such restrictions in the 1990s.