Set to come in effect from January 1, the odd-even car scheme will first be adopted for a trial period of 15 days.
New Delhi: Millions of Delhi residents are prepping for a radical new way of commuting from Friday, when authorities launch a trial of traffic restrictions to clean up the world's most polluted capital.
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The new restrictions, in place from 8am to 8pm every day except Sunday, will allow cars with odd-numbered licence plates to drive on odd-numbered dates and those with even-numbered plates on the others. The experiment will run for an initial two-week trial period.
The Delhi High Court today has asked the government of Arvind Kejriwal to explain why women and two-wheelers are exempt from the restrictions. A request from lawyers for exemption was turned down by judges, who pointed out that doctors have not been excused from the trial. 25 categories including VIPs, defence and embassy vehicles do not have to participate in the program.
The Chief Justice of India, TS Thakur, is also exempt but has insisted on following the new rules, the ruling Aam Admi Party tweeted. The US embassy has announced its employees will follow the rules though they are not obliged to.
To cope with the extra pressure on the public transport network, Delhi's government has hired around 3,000 private buses to provide shuttle services into the city from residential areas.
Schools have been ordered to remain closed until the trial ends on January 15 so that their buses can be pressed into action. 400 private schools have challenged this decision in the High Court, which has said no school can be forced to provide its buses for the experiment.
The Delhi government announced the odd-even scheme after a court ordered authorities to tackle pollution levels more than 10 times the World Health Organization's safe limits.
Some critics warn the measures could be tough to enforce in a city where traffic rules are already routinely flouted. Many believe Delhi residents will resort to "jugaad" -- creating a cheap alternative solution -- by forging number plates or buying second cars.
"They will only be cheating themselves with'jugaad'. There is no magic button that will make the pollution disappear. We must act now," said Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai to news agency AFP.
Traffic police and 10,000 volunteers will monitor cars at checkpoints across the city and violators will be fined Rs. 2,000.
Around 8.5 million vehicles clog up Delhi's roads and 1,400 new cars are being added every day as the city's residents become more affluent. That has contributed to Delhi being the most polluted of 1,600 cities around the world that were surveyed by the World Health Organization last year.