The odd-even road rationing scheme, an anti-pollution measure, kicked in from 8 am on Monday in the city, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urging people to follow it for the sake of their family and kids.
Under the scheme, apart from exempted categories, only those non-transport four-wheeled vehicles will ply on the roads which have registration numbers ending with an even digit.
The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of the city at 7:30 am stood at 439, which falls in the "severe" category. An AQI between 0-50 is considered 'good', 51-100 'satisfactory', 101-200 'moderate', 201-300 'poor', 301-400 'very poor' and 401-500 'severe'. An AQI above 500 falls in the 'severe plus' category.
"Namaste Delhi, odd-even is starting from today to reduce pollution. Please do follow it for yourself, your family, kids and your breath. Share cars. It will strengthen friendship, form relations, save petrol and pollution," Kejriwal said in an early morning tweet in Hindi.
Violations of the odd-even rule will invite a fine of Rs 4,000. Over 600 teams of Delhi Traffic Police and the transport and revenue departments have been deployed for a strict implementation of the scheme across the city.
Under the scheme, which will be implemented from 8 am to 8 pm till November 15, non-transport four-wheeled vehicles with registration numbers ending with an odd digit (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) will not be allowed on the roads on November 4, 6, 8, 12 and 14.
Similarly, vehicles with registration numbers ending with an even digit (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) will not be allowed on the roads on November 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15.
Two-wheelers and electric vehicles have been exempted from the restrictions, but not CNG-driven vehicles.
Women-only vehicles with children aged up to 12 years and vehicles occupied by physically-disabled persons will also be exempted.
Twenty-nine categories of vehicles, including those of President, prime minister, emergency and enforcement vehicles, have been exempted.
However, the vehicles of the Delhi chief minister and ministers will not be exempted.
Pollution level in Delhi peaked to a three-year high on Sunday notwithstanding claims of heightened checks and curbs by authorities, while the Centre reviewed the situation with the governments of Delhi, Haryana and Punjab and announced that Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba would monitor it on a daily basis.
After Delhi, all schools up to Class 12 were also closed in the National Capital Region till Tuesday following spike in pollution level. The heavy smog caused a major disruption at Delhi airport as 37 flights were diverted and more than 250 departures and 300 arrivals delayed due to poor visibility, officials said.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the national capital's 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) stood at 494 at 4 pm on Sunday, the highest since November 6, 2016 when it was 497.
Twenty-one of the 37 air quality monitoring stations recorded AQI between 490 and 500 and air quality sensors at Aya Nagar, Ashok Vihar, Anand Vihar and Aurobindo Marg peaked out at 7 pm.
In the National Capital Region (NCR), Faridabad with AQI 493, Noida (494), Ghaziabad (499) and Greater Noida (488), Gurugram (479), also breathed extremely polluted air.
The Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality monitor, SAFAR, said the city's overall AQI reached as high as 708 around 5 pm, which is 14 times the safe level of 0-50.
An AQI between 0-50 is considered 'good', 51-100 'satisfactory', 101-200 'moderate', 201-300 'poor', 301-400 'very poor' and 401-500 'severe'. An AQI above 500 falls in the 'severe plus' category.
The apocalyptic haze stiffened its choke on Delhi and satellite towns as scattered rains on Saturday increased humidity, leading to smog. A cloud cover added to the woes.
NASA satellite imagery showed vast swathes of the northern plains, covering Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal, blanketed under a smoky haze.
Delhi govt advises citizen's to remain indoor
With the air quality index (AQI) in Delhi rising to 'severe plus' category on Sunday, the Delhi government advised people to remain indoor as much as possible.
An advisory issued by Health Minister Satyendra Jain said, "Remain indoor or reschedule outdoor activities and consult the nearest doctor in case of breathlessness, giddiness, cough, chest pain or irritation in eyes."
with IANS and PTI inputs