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Delhi CM meets experts to discuss action for combating winter air pollution

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One India
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Environmental experts met Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday and supported the Delhi government's odd-even scheme as an "emergency" measure to bring down air pollution levels in winters, an official statement said. They discussed with the chief minister an action plan to combat winter air pollution in the national capital, it said. "The experts, Dr Ken Lee, executive director of EPIC (Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago) India, and O P Agarwal, CEO, WRI (World Resources Institute) India, say Delhi's odd-even policy had impact and recommended pollution masks in winter months," the government statement said. They also recommended long term measures such as electric vehicle policy, bus aggregator policy and reforms of pollution under control centres to combat air pollution in the city, it said. Dr Lee presented research and data on the impact of the first odd-even implementation by the Delhi Government in January 2016, the statement said. "The January 2016 odd-even pilot reduced particulate air pollution concentrations by 14-16 per cent," Lee claimed. However, due to the possibility of compliance issues over the long-run, it is perhaps best suited as an emergency measure during the winter when vehicle emissions are especially problematic, he said. Agarwal suggested that the Delhi government should look for short term measures to restrict indiscriminate use of private automobiles in the city, such as odd-even scheme, besides focusing on augmentation of public transport, the statement said. The experts said use of pollution masks could be beneficial as an effective risk mitigation measure, it added. "In a study done by EPIC India across 3,500 slum residents of Delhi in winter of 2018, it was found that the take-up of masks was the highest when it was distributed for free," the statement said. "Certain types of pollution masks (N90 or N95 masks, for example) can be effective in reducing individual exposure to outdoor air pollution," it said. The WRI India also recommended government support for wider dissemination of pollution masks in the winter months, especially for vulnerable groups such as school children, it added.

Author: Sustainability Outlook Desk