India’s smog-shrouded capital pulls cars off roads

Asia-Pacific

India’s smog-shrouded capital pulls cars off roads

More than a million private cars were banned from New Delhi’s roads on Friday as authorities began testing drastic new measures to cut smog in the world’s most polluted capital. For 15 days from January 1, private cars will only be allowed on the city’s roads every other day to try to reduce pollutant levels, which regularly hit 10 times the World Health Organization’s safe limits. Cars with odd-numbered license plates will be allowed on the roads on odd-numbered dates, and those with even-numbered plates on the other days.

Studies have shown that the lungs of every third child in the city are impaired. We really are looking at a public health crisis.

Environmental expert Anumita Raichaudury

Hundreds of traffic police and volunteers took to the streets to enforce the scheme, including dozens of children wearing smog masks and holding banners urging drivers to comply. Most drivers appeared to be sticking to the rules Friday, with Delhi’s usually clogged roads flowing relatively freely. The restrictions, which run until January 15 on a trial basis, are part of a wider drive aimed at cutting pollution that also includes shutting some coal-fired power plants and vacuuming roads to reduce dust. In a measure of mounting concern, India’s Supreme Court recently ordered a temporary ban on large new diesel cars in Delhi and doubled a tax on diesel trucks.

We’ll have to undertake even sterner measures in the future to safeguard our health, and especially our children’s future. It has to become a movement.

Delhi State Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal