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Delhi plans odd-even scheme to halve car usage

From January 1, 2016, you will only be able to drive your car in Delhi on alternate days. Facing withering criticism over rising pollution and the lack of a strategy to tackle it, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the new year's gift to the city on Friday. The decision was taken at an emergency meeting presided over by Kejriwal, one day after the Delhi high court likened the city to "a gas chamber", news agencies reported. Under the plan, private vehicles with odd and even registration numbers will be allowed on the city's roads only on alternate days. The rule will not apply to public vehicles. The government hopes the measure will reduce vehicular pollution in the city state by half. It remains to be seen, however, if it has any unintended consequences, such as a spurt in sale of cars, as citizens scramble to beat the plan. Delhi will become the first city in India to implement such a restriction on the use of private vehicles. Similar restrictive rules have been suggested as solutions to Mumbai's traffic woes but none has been tried out. Several cities around the world, notably Santiago, Sao Paolo, Bogota and Beijing, impose restrictions on the use of private cars. Announcing the plan, KK Sharma, principal secretary to the Delhi government, said arrangements were being made to strengthen public transport by running extra Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses and Metro services. A joint meeting of the traffic police, the transport department and Delhi's municipal corporations is expected to work out implementation of the order. The government also decided at the meeting to close down a unit of the Badarpur coal-based power plant.