New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) Cab companies have been directed not to resort to surge pricing during the Odd-Even scheme to be implemented in Delhi from November 4 to 15 and auto rickshaw drivers are being asked to go by the meter prices, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday.
Addressing a press conference here, he expressed hope that the scheme, being implemented for the third time in Delhi, would reduce pollution which is very severe right now.
“Delhi is doing everything from distributing two masks each to every household to implementing the Odd-Even scheme in the national capital,” Kejriwal said.
“I took a review meeting on Odd-Even with all the agencies present in the meeting. The cab companies have been directed to not surge pricing during the drive. I also want to appeal to all the auto-rickshaw drivers to strictly run on a meter,” he said.
He said a study by the University of Chicago has revealed that the previous edition of Odd-Even had lowered pollution by 15 per cent.
“We are now distributing 50 lakh masks to the people of Delhi. We will procure more number of masks next time,” he said.
Apart from all these measures, Kejriwal added that the order for staggered office timings of the Delhi government has also been issued. The offices of various departments of the Delhi government will open at 9.30 a.m. and 10.30 a.m., he said.
Earlier in the day, the EPCA, while declaring a public health emergency, asked the governments of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to issue advisories asking public to minimise exposure to surroundings and take other measures to curb the challenging levels of pollution.
“Schools are advised to work to minimise exposure of children by curtailing all outdoor activities and sports for this period,” the EPCA said. Delhi has announced closure of all schools till November 5. Other NCR cities may also follow suit.
The EPCA said the air quality of Delhi-NCR has deteriorated since Thursday and is now at the ‘severe plus’ category. “People are advised to ensure that they minimise personal exposure as far as possible, avoid physical exercises in the open till pollution levels are reduced and in particular minimise the exposure of children, the aged and vulnerable,” it said.
EPCA Chairman Bhure Lal, in a letter to Chief Secretaries of the four states, said: “We have to take this as a public health emergency as air pollution is now hazardous and will have adverse health impacts on all, but particularly our children.”
The EPC has directed that all construction activities in Delhi, Faridabad, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Noida and Greater Noida should remain completely shut till the morning of November 5. The current ban on construction was only from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The EPCA has also told the states that it is imperative to take urgent steps to stop local sources of pollution, as this will only add to the already polluted air. “This requires stringent vigilance and punitive action against all cases of local pollution, from plastic and garbage burning to dust pollution. I am also constrained to say that in spite of all our efforts, there are still many instances of local pollution and therefore, enforcement needs to be stepped up further,” Bhure Lal told the state authorities, indicating that despite measures, implementation will be the key.
“The IMD informs us that the weather will improve in the next few days, but it is difficult to say if this improvement will lead to substantial reduction in pollution,” the EPCA told the states.