India launches car rationing system as Delhi chokes into smog.

PHOTO: Courtesy

BY PRUDENCE WANZA- India has launched a car rationing system to fight the high level of pollution being experienced in Delhi.

The deteriorating air quality is said to have put millions of people at risk of respiratory illnesses.

A report by BBC indicates that private cars with even and odd number plates will be allowed on roads only on alternate days from 4th to 15th November.

Health officials have urged people to stay indoors and refrain from doing any physical activity. Schools have also been closed until Tuesday and the shutdown is likely to be extended until Friday as the city continues to choke due to smog.

Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal said the car rationing system, known as the “odd-even plan”, would take hundreds of thousands of cars off the road.

Those who will overlook this rule will be fined 4,000 rupees ($56, Ksh.5,700).

According to the report only public transport, emergency vehicles, taxis and two-wheelers will be allowed and women driving alone will also be exempted from the rule.

The report however expresses doubts on  whether the scheme will do much to ease the smog as similar measures in the past drastically reduced traffic congestion in Delhi but did not a significant impact on pollution levels.

The Indian health ministry official said the city’s pollution monitors did not have enough digits to accurately record pollution levels, which he called a “disaster”.

Five million masks were also handed out in schools on Friday as officials declared a public health emergency.

The World Health Organization has likened the pollution as equivalent to the effect to that of smoking tobacco.

Experts argue that the emissions from the vehicles are just one of several factors that have made the city a “gas chamber’.

However the major cause of the high pollution levels at this time of the year is farmers in neighboring states burning crop stubble to clear their fields thus creating a lethal cocktail of- carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide- far worsened by fireworks set off during the Hindu festival Diwali a week ago.

There is hope that the scattered rainfall over the coming week will wash away the pollutants.