New Delhi restricts car use as city struggles against toxic air pollution crisis

Monday's rush hour was less chaotic than usual in India's capital after authorities were forced to restrict car use amid a toxic pollution crisis.

New Delhi has introduced a new scheme, which restricts private vehicles with odd-number licence plates to driving on odd-dates - while even-number plated vehicles may drive on even-number dates.

Schools have been closed as the city chokes under the smog, which at a three-year high is nine times the recommended maximum.

State-run pollution monitors flagged the situation as "severe".

How much of an impact will the scheme have?

An ‘odd-even’ licence plate scheme is in play to cut traffic Credit: AP

It is thought some 1.2 million vehicles will remain stationary on a daily basis under the new scheme.

Authorities have said it will run for two weeks, from Monday.

However, pollution isn't solely down to vehicles.

India ranks fourth as the world's largest polluter and for CO2 emissions, trailing behind only the United States of America and China.

Industrial output and burning of crops in neighbouring regions adds to the smog in New Delhi.

Fireworks let off in the days and weeks surrounding Diwali celebrations are also a large contributor.

Until those issues are tackled, its unlikely there will be significant change in India's pollution predicament.

The Indian capital’s skyline is enveloped in smog and dust, a growing problem at this time of year Credit: AP

Vehicle and industrial emissions, pollutants from firecrackers and construction dust sharply increase each winter, exacerbating what is already a public health crisis.

Last year, the New Delhi government ordered firefighters to sprinkle water from high-rise buildings to settle dust, banned rubbish fires and ordered builders to cover construction sites to stop dust enveloping the area as hazardous air quality affected millions of people.

Last year, the World Health Organisation crowned India with the unenviable moniker of having the world's 10 most polluted cities.