Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said the implementation of the odd even scheme in January did not lower pollution "as much as expected" but it significantly helped reduce traffic congestion in the city.
"Odd-even did lower pollution but not as much as expected, however, it significantly reduced traffic congestion, the roads were cleared and people liked it very much," he said in reply to a question by a girl student at Sarvodaya Balika Vidyala here.
The odd-even scheme was implemented on an experimental basis from January 1 to January 15 in view of high air pollution in the national capital. The second phase of the scheme will commence on April 15.
Kejriwal said that a debate is going on regarding how much pollution was lowered during the trial of odd even scheme in January and the estimates are varying.
"Fortune magazine says it dropped by 13 per cent, others say it lowered by 55 per cent. Pollution did lower due to odd-even scheme."
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Referring to media reports during first phase of odd-even scheme that showed "increase" in pollution due to it, the Chief Minister said how could pollution go up when number of vehicles on the roads reduced.
"I was watching an interview of a child who asked how could pollution increase when the number of vehicles on the roads of Delhi had reduced," he said.
Claiming that the sale of of petrol and diesel had gone down by 40 per cent during 15 day trial of odd even, Kejriwal added it is "natural" that pollution lowered as less fuel was consumed.
"We are considering implementation of the odd-even scheme for 15 days in each month, although we have not decided it, which will help in lowering pollution and provide big relief from congestion."
The Chief Minister administered an oath to the school girls pledging to fight air pollution in the city. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia and Transport minister Gopal Rai were also present in the ceremony.
The government is taking other measures to check air pollution in the city including introduction of luxury buses with increased frequency to popularise public transport and vaccum cleaning of the roads, he said.
"In the next 2-3 months, we will ensure vacuum cleaning of over 1000 kms of roads in the city," he said.
Praising the school children for paying a "very important" role in the success of implementing odd-even scheme in January, the Chief Minister asked them to convince their parents, friends and neighbours as well as violators on the roads to follow it during second phase beginning from April 15.
The government has exempted vehicles carrying children in school dress during the second phase of odd even which could pose difficulty, Kejriwal said suggesting car-pooling with neighbours to avoid problems.
"We gave it a lot of thought but no solution could be found. It will cause some problems but vehicles could be shared with neighbours."
The Transport minister Gopal Rai advised students to take help of 'PoochhO Carpool' app launched by the government.
Kejriwal cited his meeting with Union Transport minister Nitin Gadkari on yesterday, saying that completion of eastern and western peripheral expressway will divert trucks from Delhi further improving air quality.
"The minister promised that the eastern and western peripheral expressways will be completed in next 400 days. This will improve situation of air pollution in Delhi as trucks will be diverted from entering the city."
Replying to the questions by the girl students, Kejriwal cited the water crisis in drought-hit Latur (Maharashtra) and advised them to save water beside fighting air pollution.
Even as a girl forgot her question midway the Chief Minister encouraged her to ask a question of her liking and later replied to her that school kids can fight pollution by planting saplings.