As the air quality continues to deteriorate in the national capital, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Monday said implementing the odd-even scheme would be the “last weapon” to fight air pollution in the city.
“We have implemented the odd-even scheme several times in Delhi and it will be our last weapon. Odd-even is also a way to reduce vehicular pollution so right now we are completely focussing on this (‘Red Light On, Gaadi off’) campaign and if all other programmes don’t work then the government will think about implementing the odd-even scheme,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on 15 October launched the ‘Red Light On, Gaadi Off’ campaign and urged people to turn off the engines of their vehicles while waiting at traffic signals.
Rai also said that the Delhi government will deploy 2,500 environment marshals across the city to generate awareness about the campaign.
“From 21 October to 15 November, a ground-level awareness drive on ‘Red Light On, Gaadi Off’ campaign will be launched at 100 traffic signals. We are in the process of appointing 2,500 environment marshals who will spread awareness about the campaign at these signals. It is an awareness drive, not an enforcement drive,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
“The marshals will adopt the principle of ‘Gandhigiri’. They will give red roses to those not switching off the ignition at red lights. They will be made aware as to why it is important for them to do it and how they can fight pollution through the move,” he added.
On Sunday, the air quality index was 254 — in the poor category, according to Hindustan Times.
Meanwhile, Kejriwal requested Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to hold monthly meetings with the Chief Minsters of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to curb air pollution.
He said the affected states have been unable to reach an agreement to stop stubble burning and prevent air pollution. “I believe the pollution due to stubble burning can be controlled in a short span of time. But a lack of political will is visible in doing that,” he said.
Kejriwal said the crop residue can be biodegraded or converted into biogas, coal and even cardboard. The paddy straw can be converted into compressed biogas or cooking coal which some factories are doing in Karnal in Haryana, he said, adding crop residue can be “converted into an opportunity” within a year, provided there are sharp timelines to move away from stubble burning.
(With PTI inputs)