New Delhi: Will the Arvind Kejriwal government's Odd-Even scheme be extended? Transport minister Gopal Rai said on Friday that the state government will decide after analysing pollution data collected till January 15.
In the High Court today, the Aam Aadmi Party government suggested the scheme could be extended for a week beyond January 15, claiming that the odd-even scheme has reduced pollution at peak hours in Delhi, the world's most polluted capital.
The court, which is hearing a series of petitions related to the odd-even scheme, has reserved its order till Monday. It had earlier this week asked the Delhi government why its experiment to ban private cars on alternate days should last more than a week, criticising the city's public transport as "insufficient" and observing that people were inconvenienced.
The judges had asked the government to file in court by today, an account of how pollution has been impacted by the new traffic rules.
"Delhi's atmosphere has improved. The court heard all our arguments. We are collecting data and will analyse it after the 15th," said Mr Rai, adding, "we will decide on extending it after that."
The odd-even scheme was introduced on January 1 for a two-week period to cut smog in Delhi. Cars with odd-numbered licence plates are allowed on the roads on odd-numbered dates, and those with even-numbered plates on the other days.
The state government has said that a fortnight's run is necessary to correctly assess the potential of the new restrictions in improving the quality of the city's air.
Mr Rai had said earlier this week that Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 caused by vehicular pollution is down in Delhi by about 30 per cent since the new rules were introduced.
PM 2.5 or fine particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter are linked to higher rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease after settling into lungs and passing into the bloodstream.
The Delhi government has also committed to improving public transport by providing more buses and metro train runs for commuters.
Schools in the capital have been ordered to remain closed till January 15, partly so that their buses can be used to ferry commuters to work.