May extend Odd-Even, if required: Kejriwal

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said the Odd-Even scheme may be extended if the air quality continues to deteriorate.

Speaking to the media, he said he is worried about people’s health as well as country’s image before the world because of the air pollution.

“We may extend the Odd-Even, if required,” Kejriwal said.

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He also said the image India is building before the world is also not good.

Kejriwal said when German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in the city last month, there was smog all around.

“Delhi is the national capital and if there is so much smog, what kind of message it is giving to the world. When Merkel was here, there was smog all around. What kind of message it will give?” Kejriwal said.

Later, he also urged the opposition to support the Odd-Even scheme.

In a tweet in Hindi, he said: “I urge the opposition, don’t oppose the Odd-Even scheme. The pollution has increased. The city is demanding Odd-Even. The opposition should support the public.”

The Delhi government announced Odd-Even between November 4 and 15 to keep air pollution in check.

The Odd-Even is a road rationing system in which vehicles with registration number ending with even digits – 0, 2, 4, 6 and 8 are allowed to run on even dates, and those ending with odd numbers – 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 will ply on odd dates.

The scheme aims to curb the number of cars on roads and to limit the pollution caused by them. It is applicable in Delhi from Monday to Saturday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. with violation of the scheme attracting a penalty of Rs 4,000.

Kejriwal also recalled that the AQI of Delhi was at satisfactory levels till October 10.

“The NASA satellite images show that there were no instances of stubble burning in the country till October 10. The stubble burning started after that and the pollution levels in Delhi started rising to severe category due to that. I want to know, why should the people of Delhi suffer due to this? What is their fault?, questioned Kejriwal.”

He said with the efforts from the people, the government reduced the pollution levels by 25 per cent in the national capital.

He said the pollution levels were good, satisfactory and moderate categories till then and the smoke coming from Haryana and Punjab has polluted Delhi again.

“Today, the instances of stubble burning have started again. I am highly disappointed that the states are not even obeying the directions given by the Supreme Court. The people of Delhi are suffering and I am very concerned about their health.”

He said he met several experts in the last few days on exploring options for optimum utilisation of the stubble.

“The stubble can be converted into CNG and a plant is soon going to begin production in Karnal. I have spoken to the officials from Indraprastha Gas Limited and they are keen on purchasing the entire CNG generated from the stubble.”

He said Haryana and Punjab should support the establishment of such large-scale industries as there is already a ready buyer for the products from stubble.

Kejriwal explained that the farmers will earn by selling the stubble, there will be a large scale employment generation, and all the stubble will be converted into CNG.

He said several industries have been set-up in Punjab for the conversion of stubble into coal. The chief minister said NTPC is ready to purchase all the coal produced from the stubble.

“The Punjab government should promote such industries that benefit their farmers. These industries need to be promoted by Haryana and Punjab in a huge way as they will promote employment in the states and help farmers earn.”

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