With an eye on the Assembly polls next year, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have blamed the Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi for the air pollution crisis and termed the odd-even scheme as a stunt by the ruling regime.

The Supreme Court today scolded the Centre and state governments over the toxic haze enveloping Delhi, saying the Capital was choking every year and it could not be allowed in a civilised country as the right to life was the most important. “This can’t go on. Delhi government and Centre can’t just pass the buck to each other. People aren’t safe even inside their houses and rooms,” the court said.

“Why are crops still being burnt? This happens every year and the government doesn’t do anything. We will call all those responsible here and settle it now,” the court said, adding that it would now monitor stubble burning. The bench was told by senior advocate Aparajita Singh, who is assisting the apex court as an amicus curiae in the air pollution matter, that as per the Centre’s affidavit crop burning has gone up by 7 per cent in Punjab and is down by 17 per cent in Haryana.

Meanwhile, the odd-even scheme in the national capital kicked in from 8am today as pollution levels peaked to a three-year high in Delhi and a thick smog enveloped the city, prompting hundreds of distraught people to say they wanted to leave the city due to poor air quality. On Monday, the Air Quality Index (AQI) showed major pollutants PM 2.5 and PM 10 were both at 500 — in the ‘severe’ category.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the national capital’s 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) stood at 494 at 4pm on Sunday, the highest since November 6, 2016, when it was 497.

The apocalyptic haze stiffened its choke on Delhi and satellite towns as scattered rains on Saturday increased humidity, leading to smog and a cloud cover preventing sun rays from warming the ground. Low visibility due to smog at the Delhi airport led to diversion of 37 flights.

In order to curb pollution, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday urged citizens to support the odd-even vehicle rationing scheme, in which only even-numbered non-transport vehicles allowed on Delhi roads on the first day of the exercise.

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. The scheme will not be implemented on November 10 (Sunday) and the restrictions will also apply to the vehicles with registration numbers of other states.

Hundreds of teams of Delhi Traffic Police and the transport and revenue departments have been deployed for a strict implementation of the odd-even scheme. Around 400 traffic inspectors and assistant traffic inspectors (ATIs) of the DTC and the transport department will be deployed in two shifts during the drive.

Violators will be fined Rs 4,000. Head constables and officers of higher ranks in the traffic police, sub-divisional magistrates, tehsildars, ATIs and high-ranked officials of the DTC have been authorised to issue challans to the violators.

With an eye on the Assembly polls next year, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have blamed the Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi for the air pollution crisis and termed the odd-even scheme as a stunt by the ruling regime.

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