The odd-even traffic rationing scheme was implemented in Delhi from 8 am on Monday, PTI reported. Nearly 200 teams of the Delhi Traffic Police were appointed to ensure the rules are followed, and around 5,000 civil defence volunteers have received training to raise awareness on pollution.

Pollution levels in the city continued to be high on Monday morning.

According to the government-run monitoring agency System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, or SAFAR, the overall air quality index in Delhi as of 12 pm was recorded at 588, which is above “severe” levels. The 24-hour average calculated by the Central Pollution Control Board was 467 as of 12 pm. The CPCB index is typically lower than that of SAFAR because it averages values for 24 hours, and caps hourly indices at 500 even if they are of a higher value.

SAFAR measures the air quality in real time, based on index values that are recorded at up to nine stations spread across the city and one each in Noida and Gurugram. An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered as “good”, 51-100 is “satisfactory”, 101-200 “moderate”, 201-300 “poor”, 301-400 “very poor” and 401-500 “severe”. A figure above 400 poses a risk for people with respiratory ailments and can affect even those with healthy lungs.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to cab-hailing services such as Uber and Ola to not overcharge customers and support the scheme. Kejriwal carpooled to work with two of his cabinet colleagues. “Share cars,” he said in a tweet. “This will build friendship, strengthen relationships as well as save petrol and reduce pollution. Delhi will show it again.”

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia rode a bicycle to work.

‘Gimmick’ and ‘election stunt’

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vijay Goel on Monday violated the odd-even rule and called the scheme a “gimmick”, ANI reported. “They [Delhi government] themselves say pollution is due to stubble burning, then how does this scheme help,” he asked. “I am ready to pay the fine for violation.”

A day earlier, Goel had accused the Arvind Kejriwal-led government of pulling an “election stunt”. “My violation of odd-even scheme of the Kejriwal government will be symbolic because it’s an election stunt and drama in view of the assembly election,” he had said. In 2016, Goel had broken the rule and paid a fine of Rs 2,000 when the scheme was in force. Goel claimed that vote bank politics had affected Kejriwal’s rationality.

Odd-even scheme

The road rationing system, an attempt to reduce traffic on the streets of the national Capital, will be implemented till November 15 but may be extended if pollution levels remain high. It prohibits plying of vehicles based on the last digit of their registration numbers – vehicles with odd digits are only allowed to ply on odd days, and cars with even numbers on even days..

The odd-even rule will not be applied on Sunday (November 10) and will be applicable to vehicles with registration numbers of other states. Two-wheelers and electric vehicles were exempted from the scheme, but it is applied to those operating on Compressed Natural Gas or CNG.

Vehicles used for medical emergencies or carrying schoolchildren in uniform are not required to follow the rule. Among others exempted are vehicles with VIPs, children aged up to 12, only women, and those occupied by physically-disabled commuters.

When the scheme is implemented for 11 days, the Delhi Metro will run 61 additional trips. Commuters would also have to rely on over 5,600 of the city’s Delhi Transport Corporation and cluster buses. Cab companies Ola and Uber have agreed not to apply surge prices.

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Delhi shutdown call

Meanwhile, social media users called for a shutdown in Delhi, using #DelhiBandh and received support from Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, who shared a video on it.

“Tired of inaction on curbing air pollution, citizens have called for a bandh... years after years, promises after promises, the problem of air pollution does not seem to go away... Delhiites are requested not to go to work and remain indoors (on Monday),” the video said.

“As a citizen of Delhi and as a mother, I fully support this call to action by my fellow citizens,” Gandhi tweeted.

PK Mishra, the principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Sunday discussed the air pollution in the National Capital Region at a high-level meeting with officials from Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. After the meeting, it was decided that Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba will monitor the situation in these states on a daily basis.

As a precautionary measure, all schools in Noida and Greater Noida have been closed until Tuesday due to an increase in toxic air pollution.

The Delhi government issued a health advisory for residents on Sunday. The advisory urged people to avoid outdoor physical activities and stay indoors.

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