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Kejriwal writes to PM Modi, seeks help for odd-even formula

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New Delhi: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday sought cooperation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to implement the odd-even formula aimed at reducing the number of vehicles on Delhi’s roads.

In a letter in Hindi to Modi, Kejriwal urged the prime minister to tell all his ministers and secretaries in the ministries to help implement the radical step that is aimed battling rising pollution in the capital.

He said the implementation of the proposed plan between January 1 and 15 will benefit if the prime minister issued the necessary direction or appeal.

Here’s the full transcript of the letter:

Honourable Prime Ministerji,

As you are aware that pollution has become a menace to the people of Delhi. We all are responsible for the issue and together we will have to find a solution to it.

In this direction, the Delhi government is taking many steps. One of the important decisions is to limit the number of vehicles on Delhi roads. In this regard, we have on an experimental basis taken a decision to implement the odd-even formula for the plying of motor cars between January 1-15, that is, in this period on one day only odd numbered cars will be allowed, while on another day only even numbered cars will be permitted. For the proper implementation of the plan, a detailed strategy is being chalked out. However, one thing is certain this rule will not be applicable on taxis, autos, public vehicles, ambulances and other emergency vehicles.

We are taking this unexpected and unpopular decision to reduce pollution in Delhi. Certainly, many people will have to face inconvenience because of this. But I believe this step to rid Delhi of pollution will be supported by one and all. In the case of favourable outcomes, we can repeat the odd-even formula. In this period, I and my colleagues will follow the plan and use car pooling to travel in the city. 

Through this letter, I urge you to motivate your ministers and supporters to adhere to the odd-even formula. In this manner, a good message will go out to the people of Delhi, giving strength to our efforts.

I am convinced if you would issue necessary instructions in this regard, it would have a significant impact in the country.

Thank you

Arvind Kejriwal

(With inputs from agencies)

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Air Pollution Worsens In Western Balkan Cities

Activists say the funds allocated are insufficient and that the government's response is inadequate.

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Smog, Air pollution
General view of the city as smog blankets Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. VOA

When winter arrives in the Western Balkans, it is not unusual for dense smog to envelop its cities, making it hard to breathe and impairing visibility. But this year, air pollution levels are among the highest in the world and public anger is on the rise.

In recent days, the Bosnian, Macedonian and Kosovar capitals topped the charts of the world’s most polluted cities as the smog intensified due to heavy traffic, excessive use of coal, poor spatial planning and solid fuel based heating.

The air quality index measured by the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo hit 383 on Tuesday, a level identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as hazardous to health and almost 10 times the average. In Pristina, the index registered 415 on Monday night and marked air quality in several Macedonian towns as very poor.

“This is all the result of a situation in which political elites treat the city as a construction plot which should be occupied at all costs rather than a place where people live,” Anes Podic of Sarajevo’s Eko Akcija environmental group said.

global warming, air pollution, Asia
The sun is seen through evening air pollution, Feb. 8, 2018. VOA

“You can feel how bad the air smells even inside the car or home,” said a taxi driver Mirsad Pobric.

According to the WHO, pollution costs Bosnia the equivalent of more than a fifth of its annual gross domestic product (GDP) every year — around $3.9 billion — in lost work and school days, healthcare and fuel costs.

Macedonia loses an equivalent of 3.2 percent of GDP a year to pollution, the World Bank said in a report, more than$360 million a year.

As a way of bringing more attention to the issue, the Embassy of Sweden has been using red lighting on its facade in central Sarajevo to reflect air quality each day. The deeper the red, the worse the pollution.

According to the WHO, 230 Bosnians die of air pollution per 100,000 citizens a year, compared to 0.4 in Sweden. The World Bank estimates that in Macedonia there are 1,350 deaths related to air pollution per year.

Air pollution
Sweden has launched a four-year project in Bosnia that will bring together experts from its Environmental Protection Agency .Wikimedia Commons

“Pollution is killing people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, therefore something really needs to be done,” Swedish Ambassador Anders Hagelberg told Reuters.

As part of efforts to combat the issue, Sweden has launched a four-year project in Bosnia that will bring together experts from its Environmental Protection Agency and local hydro-meteorological agencies and governments.

The aim of the program is to help improve air quality monitoring but also to bring more investment into energy efficiency.

Also Read: U.N. Chief Warns The World About Not Doing Enough To Prevent Climate Change

Macedonia has launched its own program to combat air pollution to which the government allocated 1.6 million euros ($1.83 million) in next year’s budget. It aims to halve Skopje’s air pollution within two years by reducing taxes for central heating, restricting traffic and introducing stricter control of industrial emissions.

Activists say the funds allocated are insufficient and that the government’s response is inadequate. (VOA)