The Delhi government on Thursday announced that it will replace its entire fleet of hired cars with electric vehicles in the next six months. The announcement came a day after the Aam Aadmi Party government launched the “Switch Delhi” campaign, aimed at encouraging private vehicle owners to pledge to shift to electric vehicles and install a charging point within their premises in the next three years.

“It’s history!” Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted. “Driven by the vision of CM Arvind Kejriwal to make Delhi the ‘Electric Vehicle capital’, Delhi government today became the first in the world, not just India, to mandate its entire hired car fleet to switch to electric within a deadline – 6 months. Switch Delhi begins at home.”

More than 2,000 cars will be impacted by the government’s decision, and will transition to the electric vehicles in next six months, Sisodia said. “We hope this decision inspires cities and governments around India and the world to tackle the pollution and climate change problem with the seriousness and urgency it deserves,” he added.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also hailed the decision. “This will go a long way in curbing pollution in Delhi,” he tweeted. “Delhi is fast becoming a modern city. Every Indian is proud of Delhi.”

In August, the Delhi government launched an electric vehicle policy to tackle air pollution. Under this policy, the administration promised to waive registration fee and road tax, and provide an incentive of up to Rs 1.5 lakh for new cars in the Capital, reported PTI. According to the AAP government’s policy on electric vehicles, 12 four-wheeler models were available and eligible for purchase and scrapping incentives.

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Delhi’s air pollution typically worsens in October and November due to farmers burning stubble in neighbouring states, unfavourable wind speed and local emission of traffic fumes in the city. Firecrackers ignited for Diwali and New Year celebrations add to the problem.

The air quality is considered in the “severe plus” or “emergency” category if PM2.5 and PM10 levels persist above 300 per cubic meter and 500 per cubic meter, respectively, for more than 48 hours, according to the Graded Response Action Plan.

Pollution in the city had almost disappeared last year, when the Centre imposed a countrywide lockdown to contain the coronavirus but has returned since the government began lifting restrictions at the end of August.