Traffic inspectors, marshalls, lawmakers and volunteers will be seen educating motorists across Delhi's busiest intersections about the importance of switching off their vehicles at traffic stops under "Red Light On, Gaadi Off" from October 21, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said.
He added that implementing the odd-even car rule would be the "last weapon" to fight air pollution in the city.
"Red Light On, Gaadi Off is an awareness campaign which will be observed from October 21 to November 15. It not an enforcement campaign. The onus is on individuals to follow. There will be no penalty," Mr Rai said after Aam Aadmi Party national spokesperson Raghav Chadha and party workers urged motorists at a traffic signal in his constituency - Rajinder Nagar in West Delhi - to turn off their engines.
Around 40 AAP workers stood near a traffic signal with placards and folded hands today, appealing to motorists to switch off their engines every time the traffic signal turned red. Most people were seen complying.
"The Traffic Police and Transport Department will also participate in it. We have a list of 100 busiest intersections, which will be manned by more than 2,500 environment marshals in two shifts from 8AM to 8PM. Ten marshals have been deputed at each spot, but on the 10 busiest crossroads, including ITO, number of marshals would be doubled. Traffic cops will also monitor this," Mr Rai said.
The aim is to check contribution of local factors to national capital Delhi's overall air quality, which became "poor" today with an AQI of 300 amid record rise in farm fires in its neighbouring states. The air quality is expected to worsen to "very poor" over the next two days after record farm fires - 1,230 - were reported in Delhi's neighbouring states on Sunday.
Amid an escalating blame game with the centre and governments of neighbouring states over contribution of farm fires to Delhi's air pollution, Environment Minister Mr Rai added that the AAP will write to all MLAs and political parties to join the campaign. Government school teachers will also create awareness among children and their parents during online classes, he said.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had recently announced the "Red Light On, Gaadi Off" campaign saying there are around 10 million vehicles registered in Delhi. "Even if one million vehicle owners actively follow this, experts indicate PM10 emissions will reduce by 1.5 tonnes a year and PM2.5 emissions by 0.4 tonnes a year... Switching off vehicle engines will not only stop pollution but also result in saving of Rs 7,000 per vehicle per year," he had said.
There's been growing alarm about Delhi's air pollution in view of the coronavirus pandemic with experts saying bad air could not only increase the number of cases but also the severity of COVID-19.