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Friday, January 1, 2016, 16:22

Delhi ministers carpool to office under odd-even rule

By Xinhua
Delhi ministers carpool to office under odd-even rule
Indian civil defence personnel hold placards as they stand at a traffic intersection in New Delhi on Jan 1, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / Money SHARMA)

NEW DELHI - Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his other ministers carpooled to their offices Friday as the odd-even vehicle rule came into force in the national capital on the first day of the new year.

With Jan 1 being an odd number date, only odd-numbered vehicles are allowed on the roads. Kejriwal, who has an odd-numbered car, carpooled with two ministers -- Transport Minister Gopal Rai and Health Minister Satyendar Jain.

Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra took a motorbike to work while Environment Minister Imran Hussain rode an autorickshaw.

In fact, the Delhi government launched a major initiative from New Year to curb alarming levels of pollution in the Indian capital by allowing private cars with even and odd numbered plates to ply only on alternate days in an initial two-week trial.

However, emergency vehicles like ambulances, police cars, fire engines and taxis have been exempted from the order.

As local TV channels showed footage of citizens of Delhi more or less adhering to the odd-even rule, Kejriwal said.

"I am truly overwhelmed by the response. People have achieved the impossible. I am sure Delhi will show the way."

Violaters are being met with steep fine of 2,000 rupees ($40) by traffic policemen. Delhi Police chief BS Bassi urged people to follow the rule. "I request people to cooperate with us for the next 15 days."

Commuters have welcomed the move. "It's a great step to bring down the levels of pollution in Delhi. A number of old people and children are suffering from lung disease. I urged fellow citizens to follow the rule, at least for our children."

Delhi has experienced hazardous levels of pollution this winter.  The Delhi government announced the scheme after the High Court remarked that the Indian capital is like a gas chamber as pollution levels are 10 times more than the World Health Organization's safe limits.

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