The Indian capital, gasping and choking under record-high air pollution, announced a grand plan to clean its air. But that plan seems to be fizzling before it starts.

Arvind Kejriwal, the top elected official of the Indian capital, had said last month that private cars will be allowed on New Delhi's roads only on alternate days from Jan. 1-15, depending on whether their license plates end in an even or an odd number.

On Thursday, he announced a list of people exempted from that rule: top politicians, judges, police and prison officials, women and sick people.

The effects of pollution in New Delhi are palpable: gray, overladen skies, difficulty in breathing and the smell of vehicle exhaust that pervades the air.